UofM Biology Professor Co-Authors Paper on Sunflower Genome for Nature

May 22, 2017 - A paper co-authored by Dr. Jennifer Mandel, assistant professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Memphis, will be published in the prestigious journal Nature. "The Sunflower Genome Provides Insights Into Oil Metabolism, Flowering and Asterid Evolution" will be published on Nature's website today.

This high-quality reference genome will assist future research programs using genetic diversity to improve crop resilience and oil production while considering agricultural limitations and human nutritional needs.

The sunflower is a global oil crop that shows promise for climate change adaption because it can maintain stable yields across a wide variety of environmental conditions, including drought. However, assembling the sunflower genome has until recently been difficult, because it mostly consists of highly similar, related sequences.

"We are really excited to report this work in Nature," said Mandel. "The publishing of a high-quality reference genome for sunflower will aid in agricultural, ecological and evolutionary studies across the globe. Our lab studies sunflower and its relatives to understand mechanisms that drive and maintain biodiversity in the sunflower family (Asteraceae or Compositae). Compositae is the largest family of flowering plants with more than 25,000 species distributed worldwide. The availability of the sunflower genome and the findings presented in this paper will advance our understanding of biodiversity and the evolutionary processes that have led to the great success of the sunflower family."

Read the full article here.

The Mandel Lab also is collaborating with the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Hawaii to sequence another important member of the sunflower family, Centrapalus, an African oil seed species. This will be the first reference plant genome generated by the SI and UofM, and the project will provide critical data for evolutionary studies and be useful for agricultural applications.

Contact: Gabrielle Maxey