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Buckwheat Genome Assembly Enables Development of New Varieties

After a generating chromosome-level genome assembly for buckwheat, researchers generated a self-fertile and a waxy variety of buckwheat. As they report in Nature Plants, researchers from Kyoto University and elsewhere put together a genome assembly for common buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum, using a combination of PacBio long reads and Illumina short reads as well as for its wild relative F. homotropicum to find that nearly three-quarters of both Fagopyrum assemblies are transposable elements. Overall, the researchers predicted about 30,000 genes in each plant, and traced breakdowns in heterostyly, or having different length stamens to limit self-fertilization, to the disruption of hemizygous gene and identified mutants in the GBSS gene associated with a waxy buckwheat phenotype. Using mutagenesis, the researchers introduced nonsense mutations into genes linked starch content and to buckwheat allergy to develop new varieties. "In particular, the knockout genes of GBSS are currently being introduced into elite varieties and new waxy varieties of common buckwheat should be released in the near future," the researchers write in their paper. "We emphasize that detecting the waxy phenotype, which is expressed by knocking out two paralogs, would have been difficult by forward genetics or without a chromosome-scale assembly."