A consortium of nine research centres has obtained the melon genome, a horticultural specie with high economic value around the world. It is the first time that a Spanish initiative that unites private and state-run centres has obtained the complete genome of a higher organism, in this case a plant, which produces flowers and seeds. Also, it has been done by applying massive sequencing technologies.
The Melonomics project was launched by the Spanish Genome Foundation. Nine research centres have been involved in it, having the support of 5 companies and of five Spanish autonomous communities.
Results have shown that the melon genome has 450 millions of base pairs and 27.427 genes. It is much bigger than the genome of its nearest “relative’, the cucumber that has 360 millions base pairs. “This difference is due mainly to the amplification of transposable elements. We didn’t find recent duplications within the genome, which are very common in plant species”, highlights Puigdomènech.
“We have identified 411 genes that can be related in disease resistance. They are few but, nevertheless, the melon has a high capacity of adaptation to different environments”, explains the CSIC scientist. During the work, when comparing this genome with others that are near philogenetically, they have observed how changes occur to the genome of this species, which is known for its high variability.