Asiatic pear genome sequence breakthrough

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Asiatic pear genome sequence breakthrough

The first pear genome sequence has been completed by an international team of scientists unlocking the potential to improve taste, color and storage, website reported.

Pears are among the oldest and most important cultivated fruit trees originating between 55-65 million years ago in southwestern China.

The fruit is genetically diverse with more than 5,000 cultivars globally with two major groups, the European and Asiatic pears.

Nanjing Agricultural University pear genome chief scientist and project leader Professor Shaoling Zhang, said completion of sequencing offered a valuable resource for tracing the pear's evolutionary history.

"The complete sequencing of the pear genome provides a solid scientific foundation for scientists to explore the complex genetic characteristics underlying the pear fruit tree, such as the key genes related with the taste, color, storage, resistance for diseases and insects as well as yield improvement," Zhang was quoted as saying.

The project started in April 2010 and included researchers from Nanjing Agricultural University, Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) and Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, as well as the universities of Illinois, Georgia, Hawaii and Tohoku.

The iniative yielded a high-quality diploid (cell or organism with two sets of chromosomes) draft genome sequence for the Asiatic pear cultivar Suli, with 97.1% of the estimated whole genome size assembled and aligned to their corresponding 17 chromosomes.

BGI executive director Professor Jun Wang, said the completion of the sequence was a major step forward for understanding the pear's important economic traits.

"We would like to enhance the genomic research through collaborative projects with researchers worldwide for better understanding the genetics basis of plants and animals and boosting the further development of agriculture," he was quoted as saying.

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