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International Consortium Led by Chinese Scientists Announce the First Complete Sequencing of Pear Genome
Publish Date: 2012-06-06

- The early access of pear genomic data is now available online.

June 6, 2012, Shenzhen, China – An international pear genome consortium, comprised of seven universities and institutes, has completed the first pear genomic sequence in the world. The early access of pear genomic data is now available online (http://peargenome.njau.edu.cn). The international team includes researchers from Nanjing Agricultural University, BGI, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Georgia, University of Hawaii, and Tohoku University.

Pear (Pyrus spp.) is one of the major and oldest cultivated fruit trees in the temperate regions, which is likely to have originated during the Tertiary period (65–55 million years ago) in southwestern China. It is genetically diverse with more than 5,000 cultivars and accessions present all over the world that could be divided into two major groups, the European or "Occidental" pears and the Asiatic or "Oriental" pears.

Since pear genome sequencing project was initiated in April of 2010, the consortium has devoted great efforts on the de novo sequencing, assembly and annotation. The joint effort has yielded a high-quality diploid draft genome sequence for the commercially important Asiatic pear cultivar "Suli", P. bretschneideri Rehd. cv. Dangshansuli. A total of 97.1% of the estimated whole genome size has been assembled. These assembled scaffolds have been aligned and oriented to their corresponding 17 chromosomes using a high-density genetic map.

Professor Shaoling Zhang, the chief scientist and group leader of the pear genome sequencing project at Nanjing Agricultural University, said, “The complete sequencing of the pear genome provides a solid scientific foundation for scientists to explore the complex genetic characteristics underlying the pear fruit tree, such as the key genes that related with the taste, color, storage, resistance for diseases and insects as well as yield improvement. Moreover, the genomic sequence provides an invaluable new resource for tracing pear’s evolutionary history.”

Professor Jun Wang, Executive Director of BGI, said, “The completion of the genome sequencing is a major step forward to understanding pear’s important economic traits. We are making continuous efforts for decoding genomes of plants and animals that play a key economic role or are considered valuable food sources, as well as endangered species that have evolutionary or scientific importance. We would like to enhance the genomic research through collaborative projects with researchers worldwide for better understanding the genetics basis of plants and animals and boosting the further development of modern agriculture.”

About Nanjing Agricultural University

Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU) is a public university located in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China. It is one of China’s oldest universities of agricultural sciences under the administration of the Ministry of Education. NAU is not only a national key university of high learning directly administered by the Ministry of Education, but also one of the earliest higher education establishments for agriculture. It has a good reputation both at home and abroad in all fields of agricultural science. NAU pays great attention to international collaborations and exchanges. It has established relationships with 30 foreign institutions. In recent years, research co-operation with developed countries and personnel training for developing countries have become two important features of the university. All these activities have undoubtedly stimulated the vigorous development of internationalized education and research in the university.