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IPGI Publishes Draft of Peach Genome

This article has been clarified to emphasize the members of the intitiative who coordinated the effort.

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – An international research group has published a draft genome of a Lovell peach variety of Prunus persica, researchers involved in the project said today.

The International Peach Genome Initiative (IPGI) has released online a high-quality draft with assembled scaffolds covering nearly 99 percent of the peach genome, the researchers said.

P. persica is considered one of the most well characterized members of the economically important Rosaceae family, which includes apple, pear, raspberry, and rose.

As a diploid genome it serves as a suitable model for other Prunus species. It also has a relatively short juvenile period of two to three years, and a relatively small genome of around 230 million base pairs.

A number of genes for important traits have already been described for peaches, such as those controlling flowering and fruit development, tree growth habit, dormancy, cold hardiness, and disease and pest resistance, the researchers noted.

The effort was led by IPGI and its coordinators, including Bryon Sosinski of North Carolina State University, Ignazio Verde at Consiglio per la Ricerca e la Sperimentazione in Agricoltura in Italy, and Dan Rokhsar at the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute.

The US part of the effort was funded by the DOE, while the international portion was funded by the Italian government.

"The tree providing the DNA for the sequencing effort was chosen after careful analysis of DNA from specific trees" from the Musser Fruit Research Farm orchard at Clemson, Albert Abbott, who holds a chair in molecular genetics at the university, said in a statement. "The choice of this tree was crucial to the overall success of the project, and the extremely high quality of the peach genome sequence assembly is a direct result of this choice."

"In the plant world, this looks like it's arguably one of the superior genomes out there," Sosinski, who is an associate professor of horticulture at NCSU, said in a separate statement. "It's going to have a lot of utility."

Sosinski added that the peach genome should be useful to scientists working with a number of peach relatives, such as apple and plum, whose genomes appear to be similar to that of the peach.

The consortium pointed out that while this genome, called peach v1.0, is a "very high quality" draft, "we are aware that it contains both known and unknown errors and discrepancies that will be addressed in upcoming releases of this genome. For instance, we are aware of a few minor situations where the sequences have been correctly assigned to a location, but the orientation is in question."