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Chinese help map out Dutch collection of lettuce DNA

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-10-10  Views: 26
Core Tip: It's to be the second largest DNA data set of plants in the world after rice.
It's to be the second largest DNA data set of plants in the world after rice. The Centre for Genetic Sources, Nederland (CGN), part of Wageningen University & Research and the Chinese Beijing Genomics Institute, today confirmed their unique agreement. The goal is to map out the DNA of the Wageningen lettuce collection. This is a step towards a more sustainable agriculture with less pesticides.

So far the gene bank has to do with figures on the origin of the material and the properties that have been perceived. But the new information released for the collaboration will make a gene bank 2.0 possible. Theo van Hintum of the Centre for Genetic Sources, Nederland: "This offers fantastic opportunities. We are being given the keys to the treasure chest. Imagine research into lettuce, or a different plant, shows that certain genes are important for resistance against drought or a certain disease. We can then look in our database for lettuce varieties that have similar genes. This way we can predict what lettuce varieties are best to be used in breeding without field testing them. This is a revolution!"

The CGN has a lettuce collection known for being the best and biggest in the world. The collection consists of 2,401 samples and represents all lettuce types and the most important wild varieties.

Predicting possible characteristics would have revolutionary results for plant breeding. Thanks to the efficient recognition of characteristics in gene bank material (the treasure chest) varieties could be adapted to new stress factors more easily and better.

It also has far reaching results for the breeding process. So-called DNA markers can be developed for the database. These are 'flags' with which the laboratory can research what genes are in a plant. Breeders can select for characteristics such as disease resistance from thousands of seedlings, without the plants having to be grown and researched. Better resistant and stronger varieties help reducing the use of pesticides and contribute to a more sustainable agriculture. "I expect breeders to be queuing out of the door," Van Hintum jokes.

Tonnes of data

All the information that is collected will become accessible to the public in time. Van Hintum: "It's a huge task with tonnes of data. It's never been done on this scale before. It has with rice, but because the rice genome is smaller, it concerns less data. By 2020 the DNA of all lettuce samples should be mapped."

Source: Wageningen University & Research
keywords: lettuce
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