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Researchers create first genetic map of non-coding DNA in plants

Oct. 16, 2013

Chris Pires

J. Chris Pires, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, is a co-author of the study.

Once labeled “junk DNA,” non-coding DNA is now known to be essential in turning genes on and off in many organisms, including vertebrates. While assumed to be similar, their function in plants is less well known.

J. Chris Pires and Pat Edger (Ph.D., ’12) are part of an international consortium that recently sequenced the genomes of three Brassicaceae species, Leavenworthia alabamica, Sisymbrium irio and Aethionema arabicum, and then compared them with six additional genomes from Brassicaceae to create a map of 90,000 conserved non-coding DNA regions in the Brassicaceae family. The Brassicaceae family includes cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, as well as the model genetic plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The map, which is the first of its kind for plants, will help scientists to localize essential regulatory regions in the genomes of important crop species.

Results of the study, titled An atlas of over 90,000 conserved noncoding sequences provides insight into crucifer regulatory regions, were published in the journal of Nature Genetics (2013;45;891-98).

Written by: Melody Kroll

Related research strengths:
Genetics & Genomics, Plant Biology, Quantitative & Computational Biology
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