Surprising­ly complex potato genome finally sequenced.


A research team from Germany and China has announced the first sequencing and assembly of a potato genome.

Potatoes have a tetraploid genome – they have four copies of each chromosome, two copies inherited from each plant parent. Four copies of each chromosome means four copies of each gene, presenting some difficulty for those seeking to peek under the potato’s genetic jacket.

The research team developed a clever approach to circumvent this problem and successful­ly reconstruc­t the potato genome, focussing their effort on the plant’s reproducti­ve pollen cells.

Because sex cells fuse together to create offspring, pollen contains half as many chromosome copies as the other cells. In humans, sperm and egg cells have only one copy of each chromosome, with the offspring ending up with two copies.

For the potato, the pollen cells contain only two copies of each chromosome, rather than four.

Sequencing the pollen cells, the research team reduced the complexity of the data to the point that they could reconstruc­t the entire potato genome.

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