University of Florida study uncovers vanilla DNA mystery

University of Florida scientists led by tropical plant geneticist Dr. Chambers co-led the generation of a “chromosome-scale” sequencing of vanilla DNA. Four vanilla species were sequenced from a collection of more than 300 varieties established at the Homestead research facility. The sequencing project provided genetic information that lays the groundwork for desired genetic traits.

The team sequenced various cultivars from the Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC) collection: Vanilla planifolia, Vanilla tahitensis, Vanilla mexicana, and Vanilla pompona. Among the critical findings in the research, Chambers explained that while all commercial vanilla plants are vulnerable to a fungal pathogen, related species such as V. pompona are resistant to the pathogen and could provide a genetic route to creating a disease-resistant V. planifolia.

Hasing et al. 2020 A phased Vanilla planifolia genome enables genetic improvement of flavour and production. Nat Food 1, 811–819.

Source: Crop Biotech Update

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