Plant Comparative Genetics after 10 Years

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The past 10 years have seen the discovery of unexpected levels of conservation of gene content and gene orders over millions of years of evolution within grasses, crucifers, legumes, some trees, and Solanaceae crops.Within the grasses, which include the three 500-million-ton-plus-per-year crops (wheat, maize, and rice), and the crucifers, which include all the Brassica crops, colinearity looks good enough to do most map-based cloning only in the small genome model species, rice and Arabidopsis. Elsewhere, knowledge gained in a few major crops is being pooled and applied across the board. The extrapolation of information from the well-studied species to orphan crops, which include many tropical species, is providing a solid base for their improvement. Genome rearrangements are giving new insights into evolution. In fact, comparative genetics is the key that will unlock the secrets of crop plants with genomes larger than that of humans.

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