Several plants sequenced by the DOE Joint Genome Institute have been considered “flagship” genomes due to their importance to DOE mission and plant science. Among these plants are poplar, the first tree sequenced and a candidate bioenergy feedstock, and soybean, the primary source of biodiesel in the United States. Other plant genomes are important for their role as a small reference model for other plants; for example, Brachypodium is a reference grass related to switchgrassand the moss Physcomitrella is a comparator for land plants.
Following the idea of comparator genomes, the peach is a relative of the poplar and an example of a domesticated fruit treethat could help researchers improve breeding traits to help poplars generate more biomass.
Such considerations factored into the DOE JGI’s involvement in the International Peach Genome Initiative, which published the sequence of Prunuspersicaahead online in Nature Geneticson March 24, 2013.
The team compared 141 peach gene families to those of six other fully sequenced diverse plant species to unravel unique metabolic pathways, for instance, those that lead to lignin biosynthesis—the molecular “glue” that holds the plant cells together—and a key barrier to deconstructing biomass into fuels.
The publication comes three years after the International Peach Genome Consortium publicly released the draft assembly of the annotated peach genome on the DOE JGI Plant portal Phytozome.netand on other websites.