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Nat Biotechnol. 2011 May 29;29(6):521-7. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1860.

De novo genome sequencing and comparative genomics of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera).

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Genomics Core, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Doha, Qatar.


Date palm is one of the most economically important woody crops cultivated in the Middle East and North Africa and is a good candidate for improving agricultural yields in arid environments. Nonetheless, long generation times (5-8 years) and dioecy (separate male and female trees) have complicated its cultivation and genetic analysis. To address these issues, we assembled a draft genome for a Khalas variety female date palm, the first publicly available resource of its type for a member of the order Arecales. The ∼380 Mb sequence, spanning mainly gene-rich regions, includes >25,000 gene models and is predicted to cover ∼90% of genes and ∼60% of the genome. Sequencing of eight other cultivars, including females of the Deglet Noor and Medjool varieties and their backcrossed males, identified >3.5 million polymorphic sites, including >10,000 genic copy number variations. A small subset of these polymorphisms can distinguish multiple varieties. We identified a region of the genome linked to gender and found evidence that date palm employs an XY system of gender inheritance.

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