Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists decode DNA secrets of world's toughest bean

09.07.2019

UC Riverside scientists have decoded the genome of black-eyed peas, offering hope for feeding Earth's expanding population, especially as the climate changes.

Understanding the genes responsible for the peas' drought and heat tolerance eventually could help make other crops tougher too.


Hands of Timothy Close, professor and geneticist at UC Riverside and Sassoum Lo, PhD student, UCR Plant Biology Program, paper co-author from Senegal. Close and Sassoum hold cowpea seeds with a range of coat colors, patterns, sizes and shapes.

Credit: TJ Close / UCR

Black-eyed peas are small beans with dark midsections. They've been a global dietary staple for centuries due to their environmental toughness and exceptional nutritional qualities, such as high protein and low fat. In sub-Saharan Africa they remain the number one source of protein in the human diet.

A genome is the full collection of genetic codes that determine characteristics like color, height, and predisposition to diseases.

All genomes contain highly repetitive sequences of DNA that UCR Professor of Computer Science and project co-leader Stefano Lonardi likens to "hundreds of thousands of identical jigsaw puzzle pieces."

Lonardi described the process of figuring out how the jigsaw puzzle sequences fit together as "computationally challenging." In order to do so, Lonardi's team assembled the genome many times with different software tools and parameters. Then they created new software capable of merging these various genome solutions into a single, complete picture.

With the success of this project, the black-eyed pea joins only a handful of other major crops whose genomes have been fully sequenced. The team's work on the project was published in the June issue of The Plant Journal, where it was featured as the cover story, and Lonardi's free software can be downloaded online.

Research on black-eyed peas, a legume also known as cowpea, started at UC Riverside more than 40 years ago. But cowpeas' presence in Riverside predates the university by about 200 years.

"The cowpea has been here supporting people since early colonial times," said project co-leader Timothy Close, a UCR professor of botany and plant sciences. 'It's nice that we've brought this plant with so much local history up to state of the art for scientific research."

This is the first high-quality reference genome for the cowpea. Work on it began three years ago, made possible mainly by a $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation, or NSF. An additional $500,000 NSF grant also supported the computational efforts.

A clue to the complexity of the project is the size of the research team. In addition to Close and Lonardi, the many other UCR scientists on the team included María Muñoz-Amatrían, Qihua Liang, Steve Wanamaker, Sassoum Lo, Hind Alhakami, Rachid Ounit, Philip Roberts, Jansen Santos, Arsenio Ndeve, and Abid Md. Hasan. Additional team members inside the U.S. came from UC Davis, the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute in California, the National Center for Genome Resources in New Mexico, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Iowa. International team members came from Finland, France, Brazil, and the Czech Republic.

As with humans, there are differences between individual cowpeas. Knowing which genes are responsible for qualities in individuals such as color, size, or pathogen resistance will help breeders develop new varieties even better able to withstand external challenges.

"Having the genome sequence helps scientists make decisions about the choice of parent plants to crossbreed in order to produce their desired progeny," Close said.

One of the cowpea traits that scientists are now trying to understand is its remarkable ability to recover from drought stress.

"We're trying to figure out why cowpeas are so resilient to harsh conditions," said Close. "As we move into a world with less water available to agriculture, it will be important to capitalize on this ability and expand on it, taking the lead from cowpeas to guide improvements in other crops that are vulnerable to climate change."

Media Contact

Jules Bernstein
Jules.Bernstein@ucr.edu
951-827-4580

 @UCRiverside

http://www.ucr.edu 

Jules Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2019/07/09/scientists-decode-dna-secrets-worlds-toughest-bean
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tpj.14349

Further reports about: DNA Genome UCR bean cowpea crops genetic codes genome sequence repetitive sequences of DNA sequences

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Scientists alarmed by bark beetle boom
01.07.2019 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Scientists discover how plants breathe -- and how humans shaped their 'lungs'
27.06.2019 | University of Sheffield

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

Im Focus: First results of the new Alphatrap experiment

Physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg report the first result of the new Alphatrap experiment. They measured the bound-electron g-factor of highly charged (boron-like) argon ions with unprecedented precision of 9 digits. In comparison with a new highly accurate quantum electrodynamic calculation they found an excellent agreement on a level of 7 digits. This paves the way for sensitive tests of QED in strong fields like precision measurements of the fine structure constant α as well as the detection of possible signatures of new physics. [Physical Review Letters, 27 June 2019]

Quantum electrodynamics (QED) describes the interaction of charged particles with electromagnetic fields and is the most precisely tested physical theory. It...

Im Focus: Experimental physicists redefine ultrafast, coherent magnetism

For the first time ever, experimental physicists have been able to influence the magnetic moment of materials in sync with their electronic properties. The coupled optical and magnetic excitation within one femtosecond corresponds to an acceleration by a factor of 200 and is the fastest magnetic phenomenon that has ever been observed.

Electronic properties of materials can be directly influenced via light absorption in under a femtosecond (10-15 seconds), which is regarded as the limit of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

No escape for mosquitoes

09.07.2019 | Life Sciences

Research team deciphers enzymatic degradation of sugar from marine alga

09.07.2019 | Life Sciences

World's smallest MRI performed on single atoms

08.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>