Reference genome sequences have become key platforms for genetics and breeding of the major crop species. Sugarcane is probably the largest crop produced in the world (in weight of crop harvested) but lacks a reference genome sequence. Sugarcane has one of the most complex genomes in crop plants due to the extreme level of polyploidy. The genome of modern sugarcane hybrids includes sub-genomes from two progenitors Saccharum officinarum and S. spontaneum with some chromosomes resulting from recombination between these sub-genomes. Advancing DNA sequencing technologies and strategies for genome assembly are making the sugarcane genome more tractable. Advances in long read sequencing have allowed the generation of a more complete set of sugarcane gene transcripts. This is supporting transcript profiling in genetic research. The progenitor genomes are being sequenced. A monoploid coverage of the hybrid genome has been obtained by sequencing BAC clones that cover the gene space of the closely related sorghum genome. The complete polyploid genome is now being sequenced and assembled. The emerging genome will allow comparison of related genomes and increase understanding of the functioning of this polyploidy system. Sugarcane breeding for traditional sugar and new energy and biomaterial uses will be enhanced by the availability of these genomic resources.
Journal: Frontiers in plant science