About two decades has been invested in comparative genomic research to unravel the consequences of evolutionary forces on shaping the present day genomes of different plant taxa. Following the sequencing of the model plant Arabidopsis, the current episode of genome sequencing efforts focused on important agricultural crops has substantially strengthened the ability to study important genes and or gene families conferring novel variation in a particular species, to understand the impact of evolution on shaping the present day genome organization of different crop plants, to begin to explore roles of regulatory elements on genome functionalities for conferring unique traits, and to develop more unified nomenclature for different features of plant taxa. Sequencing of rice, a model for C3 crops, was the first step in the door followed by sequencing of sorghum, a model for C4 crops, and recently of corn, will clarify the basic set of cereal genes, elucidating genome organization of C3 vs C4 mechanisms, grain development, stress related genes and novel features of each plant species. Comparisons of conserved non-coding sequences (CNSs) among different cereal genomes may begin to clarify their role in diversifications of molecular mechanisms conferring important morphological features in different crop species.
The new spectrum of genomes available for comparative genomics coupled with continually-improving bioinformatics methodologies, have improved understanding of synteny and collinearity among different genomes, which will help to translate new genetic information from model species to under-studied or genetically complex crops. Expedited development of new DNA markers for under-explored taxa will jump-start progress in initiating marker-assisted breeding to meet human needs.
In future, computational approaches will have many additional challenging roles, such as predicting new miRNAs which are non-conserved and/or species-specific. Key to community progress will be that websites and databases be amenable to expansion, user friendly and interoperable to nurture the ability to ask innovative and integrative questions of the burgeoning genomics resources.
Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, Pakistan for providing funds to one of the authors Dr. Mehboob-ur-Rahman for spending 9 months as a postdoc in Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory, Univ Georgia Athens USA.
Was this article helpful?