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Loblolly pine's immense genome conquered
Date:3/19/2014

The massive genome sequence of the loblolly pine the most commercially important tree species in the United States and the source of most American paper products has been completed by a nationwide research team, led by a UC Davis scientist.

The draft genome approximately seven times bigger than the human genome is the largest genome sequenced to date and the most complete conifer genome sequence ever published. The sequencing was accomplished by using, for the first time, a faster and more efficient analytical process. The achievement is described in two papers in the March 2014 issue of Genetics and in one paper in the open access journal Genome Biology.

The genome sequence will help scientists breed improved varieties of the loblolly pine, which also is being developed as a feedstock for biofuel. The newly sequenced genome also provides a better understanding of the evolution and diversity of plants.

"It's a huge genome. But the challenge isn't just collecting all the sequence data. The problem is assembling that sequence into order," said David Neale, a professor of plant sciences at the University of California, Davis, who led the loblolly pine genome project and is an author on the Genetics and Genome Biology articles.

To tackle the enormous size of the loblolly pine's genome, which until recently has been an obstacle to sequencing efforts, the research team used a new method that can speed up genome assembly by compressing the raw sequence data 100-fold.

Modern genome sequencing methods make it relatively easy to read the individual "letters" in DNA, but only in short fragments. In the case of the loblolly, 16 billion separate fragments had to be fit back together a computational puzzle called genome assembly.

"We were able to assemble the human genome, but that was close to the limit of our ability; seven times bigger was just too much," said Steven Salzberg, prof
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Contact: Pat Bailey
pjbailey@ucdavis.edu
530-752-9843
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert  

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