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Salt cress genome completed

An international research consortium led by Chinese genomics company BGI (Beijing) has completed the genomic sequence and analysis of the wild halophyte, salt cress ( Thellungiella salsuginea). Analysis of the plant’s 260 Mb genome identified almost 28,500 protein-coding genes. The data showed that T salsuginea and its close relative, Arabidopsis thaliana, diverged 7-12 million years ago. Since then, T salsuginea’s genome has increased in size, produced a “unique” gene complement and significant differences in the expression patterns of orthologous genes to facilitate its “dramatically different lifestyle”, the researchers note. Researchers identified many genes associated with salt tolerance, including those involved with cation transport, abscisic acid signalling and wax production. Details of the study have been published in the US journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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