Crop Biotech Update

Sweet Potato Genome Provides Insights on its Revolutionary History

September 13, 2017

The seventh most important crop in the world, sweet potato is an important source of calories, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. An international team of researchers from China and Germany has been able to sequence and phase the sweet potato genome, giving insights about the evolutionary history of the sweet potato.

The team found that there are 78,781 gene models from 49,063 gene loci in current assembly. The study also showed that, due to functional redundancy among the six homologous chromosomes in the sweet potato, quite a number of the genes have deleterious mutations in different alleles, such as a high frequency of frameshift events identified in the phased six haplotypes. The result indicated that the natural selection pressure on particular genes in the hexaploid organism is much lower than those in diploid organisms, which also provides the basis for faster genome evolution in the polyploid organisms.

Many gene clusters were found in current genome assembly, implying that pathway regulation via clustered genes is commonly used in the genus Ipomoea. Although all the orthologous genes found are based on protein sequence similarity, their biological functions are not necessarily the same as those reported for similar gene clusters in other species. Nevertheless, the identified gene clusters in sweet potato open up possibilities for investigating metabolic regulatory mechanisms in this plant.

More details are available at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Newsroom.