Improved genome of upland cotton announced


A consortium of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has improved the genome of upland cotton and made it publicly available. The sequence of the species, making up greater than 90 per cent of the world’s spinnable cotton fibre, builds upon genome sequences published in the past five years.

The consortium was led by Z Jeffrey Chen of the University of Texas and Jane Grimwood and Jeremy Schmutz of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Other partners in the project were Texas A&M University, Clemson University Institute for Translational Genomics, and USDA-ARS in Stoneville, Mississippi. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Programme and Cotton Incorporated.

The research is an example of the synergy that can be created to deliver innovation in cotton to improve the sustainability and economic value from the basic research to the farm and consumer. Growers, the textile industry, and eventually consumers will ultimately derive benefit from this success.

“This genome sequence will significantly advance cotton research to increase competiveness with synthetic fibres and is a major step forward in developing a gold standard assembly,” said Chen.

The other lead collaborator, Grimwood, said “this sequence used a new strategy to sequence a tetraploid genome by applying a combination of short read sequencing from Illumina, with long read PACBIO technology and a dense resequencing based genetic map”.

Cotton production contributes significantly to the US economy, and collaborative projects such as this help increase knowledge to enable breeders develop varieties with improved yield, fibre quality, and stress tolerance.

Don Jones, director of agricultural research at Cotton Incorporated, said, “This accomplishment facilitates deeper understanding of cotton biology that leads to higher yield and improved fibre while reducing inputs needed to produce the crop.”

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