Submitted to: Plant Physiology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/20/2005
Publication Date: 4/4/2005
Citation: Zhu, H., Choi, H., Cook, D., Shoemaker, R.C. 2005. Bridging model and crop legumes through comparative genomics. Plant Physiology. 137(4):1189-1196. Interpretive Summary: Genomic studies are expensive and time-consuming. Conducting these massive projects on individual plant species is limited by availability of resources. The ability to take advantage of knowledge gained in one species, to transfer that knowledge to another species will increase the speed with which advances in plant genetics can proceed. Recent advances in our knowledge of a few key legumes has provided much insight into how this genetic translation can proceed. The authors concluded from an analysis of the literature that this translation can proceed among closely related species. In fact, it has already succeeded with many genes involved in nitrogen fixation, a key legume metabolic process. As more information is gained, the pathways by which these translations can proceed will become more clear.
Technical Abstract: The past several years has seen tremendous progress in the study of legume genomics, thanks to the development of abundant genetic and genomic resources for two model legumes, M. truncatula and L. japonicus, and the important crop legume, soybean. Gene duplication has shaped the structure of many legume genomes. The degree of synteny among genomes is correlated with phylogenetic distances. Some regions of the genomes seem to be highly conserved, even with Arabidopsis, an evolutionarily distant dicto. Many examples of gene discovery using symbiotic genes have been reported. It is expected that these examples will increase as more information becomes available. Undoubtedly model systems will continue playing critical roles in contributing to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying nodulation and symbiotic nitrogen fixation, the most conserved phenotype in legumes. There is still much to learn about the genomic organization of crop legumes such as soybean, groundnut, and common bean. A major challenge for comparative legume genomics is to translate information gained from model species into improvements in crop legumes. The complexity of that challenge may well be defined by the structural and functional similarities and dissimilarities among these very fascinating genomes.