Salt cress genome provides new clues for adaptive evolution

Salt cress genome provides new clues for adaptive evolution

In an article entitled, “Insights into salt tolerance from the genome of Thellungiella salsuginea”, published online in July 9, 2012, issue of PNAS 1-6, the lead author Hua-Jun Wu with thirty five other associates from seven research groups have unraveled the genomic sequence and analysis of Thellungiella salsuginea (a wild salt-tolerant plant belonging to the family the Brassicaceae) applying the paired-end Solexa sequencing technology. The genomic data yielded 233.7 Mb draft salt cress genome assembly based on 134-fold coverage with a coding capacity of 28,457 genes. However, it was revealed that the average exon length of salt cress and A. thaliana genes was alike, whereas the average intron length of salt cress was about 30 percent larger than that of A. thaliana. Furthermore, the salt cress genome showed a dramatically higher content of transposable elements (TEs) and abundance of long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons. It was also revealed that a significant number of orphan genes were present that are specific to T. salsuginea. These genes do not have an ortholog in Arabidopsis thaliana and usually have no annotation based on sequence similarity. These genes may symbolize unique way of adaptation by providing domains with unusual functions, or they may be occupied in shuffling of known protein domains. However, the accomplished genomic sequence of salt cress will apparently enhance the progression of stress tolerance exploration and offer an important theoretic instruct and technical support for researchers worldwide to face the challenges of the soil salinity in irrigated areas. [summarized by Samsad Razzaque]

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