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ICBR contributes to citrus genome sequencing

Published: June 17th, 2014

Category: All News, Announcements, Bioinformatics, Featured News, NextGen DNA Sequencing

Knowledge could help fight citrus greening and improve citrus breeding

University of Florida scientist Fred Gmitter led an international research team that analyzed genome sequences of 10 citrus varieties, tracing their roots back more than 5 million years. The research team includes Bill Farmerie, the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research’s Bioinformatics Director.

Published online by the journal Nature Biotechnology, their results showed that cultivated citrus types such as mandarin, pummelo and oranges derive from two wild citrus progenitor species: Citrus maxima and Citrus reticulate.

Genome sequencing showed today’s pummelo came from Citrus maxima. Mandarins, sweet orange and sour orange sequence analysis revealed a mix of ancestor species: Mandarins from Citrus reticulate and pummelo, sweet oranges from a mix of mandarin and pummelo genomes, and sour oranges resulting from a hybrid between the two ancestral species.

ICBR NextGen DNA Sequencing core scientists and staff contributed to the overall project by producing a large portion of the sweet orange and pummelo genome sequences.

Findings from the decade-long project could help the $9 billion dollar citrus industry find and deploy genes for resistance to citrus greening, an infection that without a viable treatment could potentially wipe out the citrus industry in a decade.

“Citrus has incestuous genes – nothing is pure,” said Fred Gmitter, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member based at the the UF Citrus Research Education Center in Lake Alfred. “Now that we understand the genetic structure of sweet orange, for example, we can imagine reproducing early citrus domestication using modern breeding techniques that could draw from a broader pool of natural variation and resistance.”

Read their published journal article and more on the results of their study with the links below:

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