NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Novogene said today that it would partner with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to construct a pan-genome of the cassava plant, Manihot esculenta and one of its closest wild relatives M. e. peruviana.
The goal of the project is to piece together the plant's evolutionary history and genetic diversity in order to boost its production and nutritional value. Cassava is a major food source in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Novogene will sequence and de novo assemble cassava genomes provided by CIAT from six different eco-geographic zones. Novogene will also create cassava genome maps and conduct comparative genomic analysis to the wild strain, M. e. peruviana.
Although a reference genome has previously been sequenced for cassava, it was based on one inbred strain, Novogene said in a statement. Resequencing studies have not been able to capture all the structural variation and genetic diversity, particularly for the crop’s wild relatives.
The project "represents a significant step forward in demonstrating the value of pan-genome de novo assemblies in building and characterizing the genes that pave the path to the domestication of cassava out of the Manihot tribe," added CIAT cassava molecular geneticist Luis Augusto Becerra Lopez-Lavalle.