Cotton is one of the world’s most important crops, and it sustains one of the world’s largest industries (textiles). The value of cotton fiber and byproducts grown in the USA is typically about $6-7 billion/yr. More than 440,000 domestic jobs are related to cotton processing, with an aggregate influence of ~$120 billion/yr on the US gross domestic product and ~$500 billion/yr worldwide. Increased durability and strength of cotton fiber offers the opportunity to replace synthetic fibers that require more than 200 million barrels of petroleum per year to produce in the USA alone, also increasing use of bio-based products and increasing farm income. Its seed oil, and also byproducts of cotton processing, are potential raw materials for production of biofuels. The unique structure of the cotton fiber makes it useful in bioremediation, and accelerated cotton improvement also promises to reduce pesticide and water use.
Cotton fibers, which can be produced in vitro, represent an excellent single-celled genomics platform, building on a distinguished history of seminal contributions to molecular biology by accelerating the study of gene function, particularly regarding cellulose biosynthesis that is fundamental to bioenergy production. A genome sequence for Gossypium will facilitate ‘phylogenetic shadowing’ of the Brassicales (including Arabidopsis and Capsella), enabling discovery of otherwise cryptic genomic features such as conserved non-coding sequences. Sequencing under this proposal will augment the JGI’s 2006 CSP pilot sequencing of Gossypium raimondii, selected by the worldwide cotton community as the first cotton genotype to be fully sequenced. The United Nations declaration of 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibers makes this project particularly timely.
Principal Investigators: Andrew H. Paterson (Univ. of Georgia)
Program: CSP 2009