A new research study planned at CRAG, Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics in Barcelona, Spain, is focusing on the de novo sequencing of the musk melon (Cucumis melo).
CRAG recently bought a Genome Sequencer FLX from 454 Life Sciences, a centre of excellence of Roche Applied Science, for use in this project and in support of other ongoing research projects.
The institute is a consortium between CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), IRTA (Institute for Food and Agricultural Research and Technology) and UAB (Autonomous University of Barcelona); several major agricultural seed companies are acting as sponsors.
The institute will start work with 50 scientists and a total of 200 people working in plant and farm animal genomics and their applications in breeding. CRAG will be ready for full operation by mid 2009 in a new building under construction in the campus of UAB in Bellaterra, near Barcelona.
The Genome Sequencer FLX System at CRAG will be used for the melon sequencing project and in support of other on-going research projects. The major applications used will be whole genome and BAC sequencing, small RNA analysis and transcriptome sequencing.
One important application area is the de novo sequencing of eukaryotic plant genomes. The institute is planning to start sequencing of the melon genome which is similar in size to the rice genome at 450 Mb by the end of 2008.
With a pilot phase already underway, the aims of the project are to understand the basic processes of development and pathogen resistance in melon and to provide tools for breeders to enhance the pathogen resistance of cultivated varieties and to facilitate the breeding of fruit characters such as aroma, shape and ripening.
“The melon sequencing project is of strategic importance in Spain because melon is the second most produced vegetable crop, after tomato,” said Jordi Garcia-Mas, Head of Marker Assisted Breeding at the Institute of Agro-Food Research and Technology.
“We choose the Genome Sequencer FLX System from a number of competiting solutions because of its long read lengths, throughput, and application flexibility. The large number of high-value publications using the sequencing technology of 454 was a major reason for the decision.”
“The instrument will also be important for other projects in our centre such as gene regulation in model and crop plants both at the level of transcription and by small RNAs or for SNP discovery in crop plants and farm animals” said Pere Puigdomenech, Director of CRAG.