Brachypodium distachyon grass is sequenced

Feb. 11, 2010 at 1:08 PM

NORWICH, England, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A British- and U.S.-led international consortium says it has sequenced the first member of the wheat and barley group of grasses.

The scientists, led by Britain's John Innes Center, the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University, said the genome sequencing was of the wild grass Brachypodium distachyon.

The researchers said three different groups of grasses, represented by corn, rice and wheat, provide most of the grains that support human nutrition and our domesticated animals. The genomes of two of the three groups have been sequenced. The scientists said Brachypodium distachyon is the first member of the third group, which contains key food and fodder crops such as wheat, barley and forage grasses, to be sequenced.

"Our analysis of the Brachypodium genome is a key resource for securing sustainable supplies of food, feed and fuel from established crops such as wheat, barley and forage grasses and for the development of crops for bioenergy and renewable resource production," said Michael Bevan of the John Innes Center. "It is already being widely used by crop scientists to identify genes in wheat and barley, and it is defining new approaches to large-scale genome analysis of these crops, because of the high degree of conserved gene structure and organization we identified."

The research is reported in the journal Nature.

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