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March 1, 2018

Aegilops tauschii (Tusch's goatgrass/rough-spike hard grass)

Aegilops tauschii, also known as Tausch's goatgrass and rough-spike hard grass. Researchers from the University of California, Davis, supported by the National Science Foundation, will produce a high-quality draft of the genome of Ae. tauschii, one of the three progenitors of bread wheat.

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Bread wheat is one of three pillars on which the global food supply rests. Despite the exceptional importance of wheat, a high-quality draft reference sequence of the wheat genome is not available due primarily to its hybrid origin (polyploidy) and the enormous size of its genome.

To assist the international bread wheat genome sequencing effort, researchers from the University of California, Davis, supported by the National Science Foundation (grant IOS 12-38231), will produce a high-quality draft of the genome of Aegilops tauschii, one of the three progenitors of bread wheat.

The large size and great complexity of the Ae. Tauschii genome necessitates adopting the ordered-clone sequencing strategy for generating a high-quality genome sequence draft. This strategy will involve the sequencing of about 50,000 bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones, harboring large fragments of Ae. Tauschii DNA that have been ordered to represent the contiguous sequence of nucleotides in Ae. Tauschii chromosomal DNA.

Pools of BAC clones will be sequenced with a next-generation DNA sequencing platform and assembled into long contiguous sequences. The correctness of the assembled sequences will be validated with a novel optical nanotechnique. Genes and transposable elements in the assembled sequences will be annotated. In this way, the sequence, location and orientation of all genes and transposable elements in the Ae. Tauschii genome will be determined.

Having Ae. Tauschii's genome sequenced will have an impact in predicting the location of genes in wheat and its relatives, thereby facilitating gene discovery and manipulation in these species with the goal of incorporating these genes into wheat by traditional breeding methods or biotechnology. The genome sequence will serve as a reference in analyses of genomic changes that have taken place in the wheat genome since the origin of wheat, providing significant and fundamental contributions to the understanding of grass genome structure and evolution, and accelerating progress in genome sequencing of wheat and its relatives.

The project will also engage the large research community interested in analyzing genes of Ae. Tauschiii in community-based manual gene annotation and graphical compilation of the results in a project database. (Date image taken: 2013; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: March 1, 2018)

Credit: Patrick E. McGuire, University of California, Davis

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