U.S. Releases New Genome Sequence

Upland Cotton – An improved genome sequence will advance fiber, fuel and food applications

A consortium led by Z. Jeffrey Chen of The University of Texas at Austin and Jane Grimwood and Jeremy Schmutz of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has made publicly available a significantly improved high-quality genome sequence of Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). This sequence of the species making up greater than 90% of the world’s spinnable cotton fiber builds upon previous genome sequences published in the past five years.

“This genome sequence will significantly advance cotton research to increase competiveness with synthetic fibers and is a major step forward in developing a gold standard assembly,” said Professor Chen. The other lead collaborator, Jane Grimwood, said “this sequence used a new strategy to sequence a tetraploid genome by applying a combination of short read sequencing from Illumina, with long read PACBIO technology and a dense resequencing based genetic map”.

Cotton production contributes significantly to the US economy, and collaborative projects such as this help increase knowledge to enable breeders to develop varieties with improved yield, fiber quality, and stress tolerance. Don Jones, Director of Agricultural Research at Cotton Incorporated, said this sequence is another advancement for improving the sustainability of cotton production. “This accomplishment facilitates deeper understanding of cotton biology that leads to higher yield and improved fiber while reducing inputs needed to produce the crop.” Growers, the textile industry, and eventually consumers will ultimately derive benefit from successes such as this.

This research was achieved under multi-institutional partnerships, including The University of Texas, HudsonAlpha Institute, Texas A&M University, Clemson University Institute for Translational Genomics, and USDA-ARS in Stoneville, Mississippi. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program and Cotton Incorporated. This is another example of the synergy that can be created to deliver innovation in cotton that will improve the sustainability and economic value from the basic research to the farm and consumer.

This sequence of Gossypium hirsutum and relevant information is currently available at the plant comparative genomics site (https://phytozome.jgi.doe.gov) and will be available in CottonGen (https://www.cottongen.org/) in the near future. It was released to the public on April 7, 2017.