Decoding the Tomato Genome

An international joint research project of 300 researchers from 14 nations, including Korea, has decoded the tomato’s genome sequence. In Korea, Dr. Cheol-Goo Hur of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology (KRIBB) and Dr. Doil Choi of the Seoul National University participated in the research supported by 21st Century Frontier Crops’ Genome Function Research Project of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The tomato, a member of the solanaceae family which includes eggplant, hot pepper and potato, is a model research plant and a valuable vegetable crop with an annual global trade worth ten trillion KRW. The Solanaceae taxon has evolved widely over time and is now represented by over 3,000 species around the world.

In order to analyze of the genome sequence of the tomato, researchers established an international consortium, allotting 12 genomes among member nations. The Korea team received the 2nd genome. Initially, a first generation base sequence analyzing method, which was utilized in analyzing the human genome, was adopted. Then a next generation gene sequencer (NGS) was used to analyze it. The tomato genome sequence, consisting of 900 million base pairs of DNA, encompasses a wide scope of data including 35,000 genes of tomato genome, arrangements and compositions of genes, and gene structure.

It is expected that this gene data can be used to promote the development of breeding technologies to improve quality and yields. This gene data can reduce by more than half breeding cycles and costs and play a key role in the understanding of biosynthetic pathways and speciation research of secondary metabolites such as vitamin A, vitamin C and capsaicin (a hot-tasting component). Also, if this data can be introduced to other members of the solanaceae family, including hot peppers and potatoes, various new agricultural products may soon be seen on the table.

The research result was posted on May 31, 2012, in ‘Nature’, the world’s foremost journal of bioscience. The genome sequence can be found online

Source and Photo: Korean Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology
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