Clues into the evolutionary diversification of brassicas have emerged from the draft Chinese cabbage genome sequence1. Brassica crops include many agriculturally important vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, pak choi, turnip, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, as well as various oilseed crops.
The sequencing focused on Chinese cabbage, Brassica rapa subspecies pekinensis, and was undertaken by the international Brassica rapa Genome Sequencing Project Consortium. The work was underpinned by the previously published genome sequence of the premier model of flowering plants, Arabidopsis thaliana. This species is related to B. rapa, with which it shared a common ancestor.
“Brassicas come in many shapes and sizes, and even individual species show considerable morphological variation. Genome information helps us understand the genetic basis of this diversity,” explains consortium member Hiroshi Abe of Japan’s RIKEN BioResource Center, one of the three biggest Arabidopsis stock centers in the world. “We developed genomic resources for Brassica rapa and contributed to the gene annotation in this project.”
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