Biotech Updates

Lettuce Genome Assembly Published

April 19, 2017

Researchers from University of California, Davis (UC Davis) have released the first comprehensive genome assembly of lettuce and the huge Compositae plant family.

Garden lettuce (Lactuca sativa) includes a number of lettuce types, ranging from iceberg to romaine, is the most valuable fresh vegetable and one of the 10 most valuable crops, overall, in the United States. Lettuce is a member of the Compositae family, which includes the good, the bad, and the ugly of the plant world, from the daisy and sunflower to ragweed and the dreaded star thistle.

The research team found that specific genes in the lettuce genome were consistent with certain physical traits such as the production of a rubber-containing milky sap. This has also been found in taxonomically distinct species, such as the rubber tree. The study also found that somewhere during the evolution of lettuce about 45 million years ago, its genome was "triplicated." As a result, one-fourth of the genome appears in multiple related regions. As genomic duplications give plant species an advantage in colonizing new environments, the ancient triplication in lettuce might, in part, explain the success of the Compositae plant family.

For more details, read the article in the UC Davis Egghead.