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BGI and CIAT announce collaboration for large-scale genome sequencing of cassava
Date:12/6/2011

Cali, Colombia and Shenzhen, China -- The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and BGI, the world's largest genomics organization, announced a collaborative agreement to sequence 5,000 cassava genotypes, including landraces, improved varieties, experimental populations and related wild species of the crop. Cassava is the fourth most important provider of dietary calories in developing countries (after maize, wheat and rice.) Results of this research project will enable a major advance in applying modern genomics technology and analytics to improving this orphan crop. CIAT and BGI invite the cassava research community to join in this collaborative effort.

Barely known outside the tropics, cassava is a critical source of food and income for more than 200 million families in the developing world. Over half the production is in Africa, with 30 percent in Asia and 16 percent in the Americas. Because it is not grown in the developed world, investment in research to improve the species has lagged behind many other crops. And because the crop is clonally propagated, and farmers save stem pieces for planting from one generation to the next, the private seed industry has not invested in cassava improvement. This initiative promises to allow modern genetics tools to contribute to the improvement of cassava for the benefit of the world's poor and help cassava scientists worldwide "catch up" with other crops.

454 LifeSciences and Joint Genome Institute(JGI) produced the first draft of the cassava genome from a CIAT accession at the end of 2009. The assembly remains highly fragmented (12,000 scaffolds) but is believed to contain 97% of known coding loci (http://www.phytozome.net/cassava.php). CIAT is currently planning to employ Illumina paired-end sequencing to attempt to join some of these scaffolds. The University of Arizona is sequencing selected genotypes. The Chinese Academy of Tr
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Contact: Jia Liu
liujia@genomics.cn
BGI Shenzhen
Source:Eurekalert

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