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Crop Biotech Update

China Completes Sequence of Foxtail Millet Genome

May 18, 2012

BGI, the world's largest genomics organization, in cooperation with Zhangjiakou Academy of Agricultural Science, has completed the genome sequence and analysis of foxtail millet (Setaria italica), the second-most widely planted species of millet. This study provides an invaluable resource for the study and genetic improvement of foxtail millet and millet crops at a genome-wide level. Results of the latest study were published online in Nature Biotechnology on May 14, 2012.

Foxtail millet is an important cereal crop providing food and feed in semi-arid areas. It was the top crop in ancient China. It promises to serve as an important model for comparative genomics and functional gene studies, due to its small genome size (~490M), self-pollination, rich genetic diversity (~6000 varieties), complete collection of germplasm, and the availability of efficient transformation platforms. It is also evolutionarily close to several important biofuel grasses, such as switchgrass and napier grass.

In this study, researchers from BGI carried out next-generation sequencing and de novo assembly for "Zhang gu", one strain of foxtail millet from Northern China. The final genome assembly was 423 Mb, and 38,801 protein-coding genes have been predicted, of which ~81% were expressed. "The decoding of whole genome sequence is an essential and important step to reveal the secrets of genetic control of crops, which could serve as an important platform for biological studies and breeding. " Dr. Zhang Gengyun, Vice Director of BGI said..

See the news at http://www.genomics.cn/news/show_news?nid=99055.