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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2006 Apr;9(2):149-56. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

The maize genome as a model for efficient sequence analysis of large plant genomes.

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The Institute for Genomic Research, 9712 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850, USA.


The genomes of flowering plants vary in size from about 0.1 to over 100 gigabase pairs (Gbp), mostly because of polyploidy and variation in the abundance of repetitive elements in intergenic regions. High-quality sequences of the relatively small genomes of Arabidopsis (0.14 Gbp) and rice (0.4 Gbp) have now been largely completed. The sequencing of plant genomes that have a more representative size (the mean for flowering plant genomes is 5.6 Gbp) has been seen as a daunting task, partly because of their size and partly because of the numerous highly conserved repeats. Nevertheless, creative strategies and powerful new tools have been generated recently in the plant genetics community, so that sequencing large plant genomes is now a realistic possibility. Maize (2.4-2.7 Gbp) will be the first gigabase-size plant genome to be sequenced using these novel approaches. Pilot studies on maize indicate that the new gene-enrichment, gene-finishing and gene-orientation technologies are efficient, robust and comprehensive. These strategies will succeed in sequencing the gene-space of large genome plants, and in locating all of these genes and adjacent sequences on the genetic and physical maps.

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