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Sweet Assembly

A Brazilian-led team of researchers has assembled more than 99 percent of the commercial sugarcane genome, a complex, polyploid genome that has resulted from crosses between Saccharum officinarum and S. spontaneum.

The Universidade de São Paulo's Glaucia Mendes Souza and her colleagues sequenced the sugarcane variety known as SP80-3280, which is among the top varieties grown in the São Paulo area. As they report in GigaScience, they uncovered 373,869 putative sugarcane genes and found that about 12 percent of the SP80-3280 genome originates from S. spontaneum. They additionally report that homeologs account for a large portion of the gene space, about 87 percent.

"The knowledge obtained for this variety can be applied in studies of other genotypes, particularly for the discovery of genes that control biomass accumulation," co-author Augusto Lima Diniz from Universidade de São Paulo who is interning at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory says in a statement.

The researchers add that worldwide sugarcane yield is at only about 20 percent of its potential and there is interest applying conventional and molecular approaches to boost that yield.