CALS scientists are part of an international consortium that has successfully sequenced and analyzed the potato genome. The consortium’s work, which is described in the current issue of Nature, turned up more than 39,000 genes and is expected to speed potato research and breeding projects around the globe. The Wisconsin team’s contribution involved uncovering important information about the structure of potato’s 12 chromosomes.
“The most important part of this project was actually finding the genes. That was the main goal,” says plant geneticist Jiming Jiang, professor in the Department of Horticulture, one of 20 principal investigators from 14 countries who worked on the project. “But the group still needed our expertise to help solve some of the puzzles.”
Jiang and colleagues Marina Iovene and Giovana Torres used microscopic tools to reveal unique physical characteristics of each of the potato plant’s 12 chromosomes, such as the location of gene-rich and gene-poor regions and – particularly important – where each chromosome begins and ends within the genome sequence.