Genome sequencing of crop plants could boost global food security

London, August 29: Sequencing the genome of a Chinese cabbage variety of a plant called Brassica rapa, a close relative of oilseed rape, could help improve the efficiency of crop breeding and ensure our future food security, BBSRC-funded scientists say.

By sequencing Brassica rapa, researchers were able to access half of oilseed rape’s genes without having to wrestle with its large and complicated genome.

Professor Ian Bancroft led the research at the John Innes Centre. He explains “Oilseed rape is the second most important oil crop in the world and the most important in Europe.

“Sequencing its genes will provide breeders with the tools to improve the efficiency of developing new varieties, but this is difficult because it has a really complicated genome.

“Thankfully, because it is a hybrid, nature has already divided up the oilseed rape genome into two more manageable chunks, one of which we have now sequenced,” he added.

Brassica rapa and oilseed rape are both brassicas, a group which also includes broccoli, turnip, sprouts and cabbages. Together, this important group of plants accounts for more than 10 percent of the world’s vegetable and vegetable oil production and, despite their apparent diversity, they are all closely related.

This enables scientists to apply the insights they gain by sequencing one species, such as Brassica rapa to improving the breeding efficiency of a range of crops essential to ensuring global food security.

The study was recently published in the journal Nature Genetics. (ANI)