A new paper published online on November 11, 2015 in an open-access article in Nature reports the virtually complete draft genome sequence of Oropetium thomaeum, a grass species that can re-grow after exposed to extreme drought when water again becomes available. The plant's 245-Mb genome was analyzed with 72X coverage on the PacBio® RS II Sequencing System by researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (DDPSC) in St. Louis, Missouri. The resulting assembly has an accuracy of 99.99995% and includes telomere and centromere sequences, long terminal repeat retrotransposons, tandem duplicated genes, and other difficult-to-assemble genomic elements. This plant was sequenced through the Pacific Biosciences "Most Interesting Genome in the World" grant program designed to help scientists determine the biological mechanisms behind its extreme drought tolerance for potential application in crop improvement. The Nature article is titled “Single-Molecule Sequencing of the Desiccation Tolerant Grass Oropetium thomaeum.” The senior author of the Nature article is is Todd Mockler, Ph.D., Associate Member, DDPSC, Geraldine and Robert Virgil Distinguished Investigator, DDPSC; and the lead authors are Post-Doctoral Associate Robert VanBuren, Ph.D., DDPSC; and Doug Bryant, Ph.D., DDPSC. Scientists from numerous other institutions (see below) also contributed to this effort. "We submitted the idea to sequence the resurrection grass Oropetium thomaeum to PacBio because it has the smallest known genome among the grasses. Having the genomic data of a highly drought-tolerant species is really powerful in facilitating crop improvement, and providing a valuable resource for the plant comparative genomics community.
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