NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers from North Carolina State University have completed the Tobacco Genome Initiative, which sequenced the majority of the gene space of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum).
The tobacco genome contains around 4.5 billion bases, but only 20 percent to 25 percent of the plant’s genome is defined as "gene space." Charles Opperman, director of the Center for the Biology of Nematode Parasitism and a co-director of the project, told GenomeWeb Daily News via e-mail that researchers did not sequence the entire genome, but used a methyl filtration approach to sequence the majority of the plant’s gene space.
The five-year, $17.6 million project was funded by tobacco firm Philip Morris USA.
In addition to the tobacco plant, researchers did a partial sequence of the genome of N. benthamiana, an amphiploid species with 38 chromosomes that is closely related to tobacco and is an important model host for studying plant-disease interactions, according to NC State.
The tobacco plant also is a member of the Solanaceae family, which includes the tomato, eggplant, potato, and pepper plants. Researchers hope that the Tobacco Genome Initiative will benefit studies on these plants as well.
Opperman said that data from the project has been released to public databases including GenBank.