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Crop Biotech Update

International Research Team Releases Rye Genome Sequence

March 24, 2021
Photo Source: KWS Media Library

An international team of researchers from the International Rye Genome Sequencing Group (IRGSG) and their collaborators from 14 countries led by the IPK Leibniz Institute in Germany has released the genome sequence of rye, a distinctly climate-resistant cereal plant that is of considerable importance for Germany and northeastern Europe.

Rye has a close and long evolutionary history with barley and wheat, though its role as an important crop is shorter. While barley and wheat were domesticated about 10,000 years ago, rye spread to Northern Europe as a weed growing in barley and wheat fields. Gradually, rye adopted the characteristics of its two "big brothers" before becoming a purely cultivated species 5,000-6,000 years ago.

Rye is a diploid with a large genome, 50% larger than the syntenic diploid barley and bread wheat subgenomes. The researchers used homozygous seeds from the plant breeding company KWS SAAT SE & Co. KGaA. Andres Gordillo, lead of rye breeding at KWS said, "The new genome sequence of our inbred line Lo7 is a great technological achievement and an important step forward towards a more comprehensive genetic characterization of this crop." He added that the new genome sequence will make it easier to link resistance traits observed in the field with their underlying genes and their positions in the rye genome.

The results of their research are published in an open-access paper in Nature Genetics. For more details, read the news releases from IPK, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Maryland.

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