New portal for plant genomics will support research into improved crops

October 8, 2009

Today sees the launch of Ensembl Plants - a freely available web resource for plant genomics research - by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), in partnership with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA. Ensembl Plants allows researchers worldwide to access and visualise the results of genome-scale experiments in different plant species. By pinpointing the genetic basis of beneficial characteristics such as drought and pest resistance, Ensembl Plants will make it easier for scientists to improve the productivity and health of crops - an important step towards meeting growing global food requirements over the coming decade.

Paul Kersey, leader of the Ensembl Genomes team at EMBL-EBI, said: "Ensembl Plants makes the results of genome-scale experiments available to the whole scientific community. The interface is familiar to researchers as it is already in use for the visualisation of information about the genomes of other species, making this new resource very accessible."

The first release includes genome data from new research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Richard Mott from the University of Oxford's Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, along with Paula Kover from the University of Bath, have sequenced the genomes of 17 strains of the thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana. Arabidopsis was the first plant to have its genome sequenced, and is an important reference point for applied plant research. In addition to providing a detailed catalogue of variation in the Arabidopsis genome, the project serves as a pilot for the application of high-throughput sequencing methods to plant genomes.

Richard Mott said: "Now that we have 17 Arabidopsis genomes represented in the database we have an incredibly powerful tool for plant genetics research. This will allow us to identify useful genetic traits that are likely to be found throughout the plant kingdom." "Researchers across the world can then use that information to improve crops, contributing towards efforts to increase food production and adapt crops to changing climates" added Paula Kover.

Ensembl Plants has been co-developed by EMBL-EBI and the group of Doreen Ware who run the Gramene database at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA. Gramene already utilises the Ensembl open source software system, originally developed by EMBL-EBI and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, for studying the genetic differences between plant species. The Ensembl Plants and Gramene groups will collaborate to maintain a common set of reference databases, integrating experimental data generated on both sides of the Atlantic.

The launch of Ensembl Plants completes the set of new Ensembl-powered portals (for bacteria, protists, fungi, and invertebrate metazoa) launched by EMBL-EBI during 2009.

More information: Ensembl Plants: http://.ensembl.org

Source: European Molecular Biology Laboratory (news : web)

Explore further: Researchers assemble second non-human primate genome

Related Stories

Researchers assemble second non-human primate genome

February 9, 2006

A multi-center team has deposited the draft genome sequence of the rhesus macaque monkey into free public databases for use by the worldwide research community, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of ...

New Web resource to improve crop engineering

June 19, 2008

Stanford, CA. The Carnegie Institution's Department of Plant Biology announced the launch of a new web-based resource that promises to help researchers around the world meet increasing demands for food production, animal ...

Sequencing thousand and one genomes

September 29, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tuebingen, Germany, reported the completion of the first genomes of wild strains of the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The entire ...

Midget plant gets makeover

June 22, 2009

A tiny plant with a long name (Arabidopsis thaliana) helps researchers from over 120 countries learn how to design new crops to help meet increasing demands for food, biofuels, industrial materials, and new medicines. The ...

Recommended for you

Huddling rats behave as a 'super-organism'

September 3, 2015

Rodents huddle together when it is cold, they separate when it is warm, and at moderate temperatures they cycle between the warm center and the cold edges of the group. In a new study published in PLOS Computational Biology, ...

Fighting explosives pollution with plants

September 3, 2015

Biologists at the University of York have taken an important step in making it possible to clean millions of hectares of land contaminated by explosives.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.