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Scientists at the James Hutton Institute are part of an international consortium which has sequenced the genomes of the domesticated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and its wild ancestor, Solanum pimpinellifolium.
The achievement by the Tomato Genome Consortium will help breeders identify important tomato genes allowing them to deliver new varieties more quickly and efficiently. The results of the sequencing projects are reported in this week’s issue of Nature.
Work on the tomato genome at the James Hutton Institute was led by Dr Glenn Bryan who said: “It is remarkable that Solanaceae research community has been able to publish the genomes of potato and tomato within the space of a year.
“This will significantly improve our ability to carry forward research on the potato, the tomato and other crops in the Solanaceae family. The James Hutton Institute is proud to have been involved in both projects with significant support from the Scottish Government."
The Tomato Genome Consortium is a group of over 300 scientists from 14 countries. Sequencing the genomes will help breeders deliver tomatoes with beneficial traits, like improved taste and higher concentrations of nutrients, like lycopene, which are believed to have health benefits.
Having the genome sequence could also lower costs by helping breeders develop tomatoes that are better equipped to combat the pathogens, droughts and diseases that plague growers.
The market for tomatoes is worth around £625 million a year in the UK alone but, by benefitting breeders of other crops in the Solanaceae family like potatoes, peppers and aubergines, the genome could be more valuable still.
The UK effort was led by researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham in collaboration with leading scientists at The Genome Analysis Centre, the James Hutton Institute, the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Natural History Museum. The project was funded in the UK by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra and the Scottish Government and the sequencing was undertaken by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
Read the full news release on the BBSRC website.
Notes to editors
About the Tomato Genome Consortium
The Tomato Genome Consortium was established as a result of a scientific conference organised in 2003 in Washington, DC. Consortium members include scientists from Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
More information from: Lorraine Wakefield, Content Manager, The James Hutton Institute, Tel: 01382 568749 (direct) or 0844 928 5428 (switchboard).
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