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Authors: Gordon, Sean P and Liu, Lifeng and Vogel, John P

The genus Brachypodium contains annual and perennial species with both diploid and polyploid genomes. Like the annual species B. distachyon, some of the perennial and polyploid species have traits compatible with use as a model system (e.g. small genomes, rapid generation time, self-fertile and easy to grow). Thus, there is an opportunity to leverage the resources and knowledge developed for B. distachyon to use other Brachypodium species as models for perenniality and the regulation and evolution of polyploid genomes. There are two factors driving an increased interest in perenniality. First, several perennial grasses are being developed as biomass crops for the sustainable production of biofuel and it would be useful to have a perennial model system to rapidly test biotechnological crop improvement strategies for undesirable impacts on perenniality and winter hardiness. In addition, a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying perenniality could be used to design strategies for improving energy crops, for example, by changing resource allocation during growth or by altering the onset of dormancy. The second factor driving increased interest in perenniality is the potential environmental benefits of developing perennial grain crops. B. sylvaticum is a perennial with attributes suitable for use as a perennial model system. A high efficiency transformation system has been developed and a genome sequencing project is underway. Since many important crops, including emerging biomass crops, are polyploid, there is a pressing need to understand the rules governing the evolution and regulation of polyploid genomes. Unfortunately, it is difficult to study polyploid crop genomes because of their size and the difficulty of manipulating those plants in the laboratory. By contrast, B. hybridum has a small polyploid genome and is easy to work with in the laboratory. In addition, analysis of the B. hybridum genome, will be greatly aided by the genome sequences of the two extant diploid species (B. distachyon and B. stacei) that apparently gave rise to B. hybridum. Availability of high quality reference genomes for these three species will be a powerful resource for the study of polyploidy.

Journal:
DOI: 10.1007/7397_2015_19
Year: 2015

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