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454, Synamatix, Malaysian Plantation Company Sequence Oil Palm Genome

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Roche's 454 Life Sciences and Malaysian companies Sime Darby and Synamatix have sequenced and assembled the genome of the oil palm, 454 said today.

According to 454, this is the first de novo assembly of a large, complex plant genome to be completed only with second-generation sequencing data, without the use of Sanger sequence reads.

Palm oil is used in food, health supplements, cosmetics, and as a biofuel, and Sime Darby operates palm oil and rubber plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The partners sequenced the 1.7-gigabase oil palm genome using the 454 Genome Sequencer FLX Titanium platform. They also sequenced 12 transcriptomes of oil palms at various stages of their development in order to study oil biosynthesis mechanisms.

Bioinformatics company Synamatix assembled the genome sequence data. "We were able to achieve a very high quality assembly in spite of the genome's very high repeat content," Robert Hercus, managing director of Synamatix, said in a statement.

Synamatix and 454 plan to sequence and assemble other commercially important plant genomes in the future.