With the world’s tropical areas predicted to be the focus of population growth, an expanding middle class, and urban expansion, coupled with the global challenges of climate change and land and water degradation, the scientific community must find sustainable ways to provide food fibre, and energy for the future. Genomics is one field of research that offers new ways to understand fundamental plant form and processes.
Comparative genome sequences present opportunities to study the evolution of plant genome structure and the dynamics of molecular evolutionary processes. They can identify genes and other functional elements, provide critical data for annotation of completed plant genomes, and provide an important tool to pursue gene isolation in new target species. Understanding the gene sequences may lead to improved breeding and therefore healthier and more productive plants, provide pest and disease resistance, or alternative products. Genome sequencing is also conducted on wild crop relatives and unique plant species to better understand and preserve diversity.
The majority of plants chosen to be sequenced to date tend to be model species with small genomes or species of high economic and social importance. One of the forces driving the rapid increase in fully sequenced plant genomes is the exponential decrease in cost and speed of genome sequencing fuelled by high throughput DNA sequencing. In a world with >260,000 known plant species, finite sequencing resources and limited funding, the choice as to which genomes will be sequenced becomes important.
To enable the breeding of improved plants for future food, fibre, and energy, we will need to expand both the species sequenced, the number of species re-sequenced, and the type of ‘omics’ data layered on genomes. While we have come a long way since the publication of the Arabidopsis genome in 2000, many opportunities remain to utilise genomics to explore plant improvement and preservation.
- Transcriptome sequencing
- Chloroplast sequencing
- Genome sequencing
- Sequencing strategies
- Genome annotation
Dr Natalie Dillon
has worked with tropical fruit industries over the last 12 years. She currently leads the genetic aspects of tropical fruit research, based at the Centre Tropical Agriculture, Mareeba, Queensland.
Her interests include the improvement of tropical horticultural crops utilising molecular markers in breeding.
She has worked with a range of crops including; mango, cocoa, papaya, lychee, longan, tomato, capsicum and jackfruit. Read more…
Dr. David Innes
Scientific and Editorial Committee
- Associate Professor Rebecca Ford, Australia
- Associate Professor Orarat Mongkolporn, Thailand
- Dr Karen Aitken, Australia
- Dr Chat Kanchana-udomkan, Australia