Cotton Genome Will Advance Fiber, Fuel, and Food
April 30, 2015

An international consortium, led by Professors Tianzhen Zhang from Nanjing Agricultural University and Z. Jeffery Chen of the University of Texas at Austin, has made publicly available a high-quality draft genome sequence of Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). This sequence of the species making up greater than 90 percent of the world’s spinnable cotton fiber builds upon previously published genome sequences over the past two years.

“This genome sequence will significantly advance cotton research to increase competitiveness with synthetic fibers and aid our efforts to develop a gold standard assembly,” said Dr. Chen. The other lead collaborator, Dr. Tianzhen Zhang, said “these results published in Nature Biotechnology will fuel multi-disciplinary research and lead to development of improved cotton varieties preferred by growers and the textile industry”.

Cotton production contributes significantly to economies in numerous countries, and collaborative projects such as this help increase such contributions. Dr. Don Jones, Director of Agricultural Research at Cotton Incorporated, said this sequence is another advancement for improving the sustainability of cotton production. “This accomplishment deepens our understanding of cotton biology and will eventually lead to higher yield and improved fiber while reducing inputs in a sustainable production system.”

This research was achieved under a partnership between two leading cotton research laboratories at Nanjing Agricultural University and the University of Texas. Funding for Dr. Zhang came from the Major State Basic Research Development Program of China and for Dr. Chen from the National Science Foundation, Cotton Incorporated, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

A complementary sequencing effort, published in the same issue of Nature Biotechnology, was spearheaded by the Chinese Cotton Research Institute and USDA-ARS. These two efforts will significantly enhance innovation in cotton by fostering collaboration across disciplines and by accelerating plant breeding in cotton, with the broad goal of improving the sustainability and economic value from the farm to the consumer.

This sequence of Gossypium hirsutum is currently deposited in GenBank. Data will also be available in CottonGen in the near future.

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