Draft Genome Sequence for Nicotiana benthamiana Released in 2012
Scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) released a draft sequence of the Nicotiana benthamiana genome which is accessible through the SGN BLAST tool and can be downloaded from an ftp site (see: http://solgenomics.net/). The project was funded by BTI and National Science Foundation grants IOS-1025642 and IOS-0343327.
N. benthamiana is a widely used model for plant-microbe biology and other research applications. It is particularly useful because it is related to tomato and potato and is amenable to virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) which facilitates the efficient functional study of plant genes.
The draft sequence of N. benthamiana will allow better design of constructs for virus-induced gene-silencing (VIGS) in order to reduce the possibility of ‘off-target’ gene silencing . The sequence will also be useful for identifying orthologs of tomato and potato genes, for comparative genomics with other Solanaceae species, and for the retrieval of promoter sequences.
N. benthamiana has a very complex genome consisting of n=19 chromosomes that is estimated at over 3.5GB in size. Taxonomically, it is an old allotetraploid of the section Suaveolentes that formed from diploid parents from the section Sylvestres and the section Noctiflorae. It is native to Australia [2, 3].