Submitted to: The Plant Genome
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/5/2007
Publication Date: 3/1/2008
Citation: Garvin, D.F., Gu, Y.Q., Hasterok, R., Hazen, S.P., Jenkins, G., Mockler, T.C., Mur, L.A., Vogel, J.P. 2008. Development of genetic and genomic research resources for Brachypodium distachyon, a new model system for grass crop research. The Plant Genome. 48:S69-S84.
Interpretive Summary: The domesticated grass crops encompass an extraordinarily diverse set of species distributed around the world. This includes the most important crops for human subsistence including wheat and species used as feedstock for conversion to biofuels. Due to a variety of biological reasons, it is difficult to use molecular tools to improve these crops. Thus, a model plant system for wheat and other cool season grass crops would have great potential as a surrogate both for learning how to modify wheat to meet future food demands and for studying how to modify grass crops to increase biofuel production. The wild grass species Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) has been adopted as just such a model plant for these purposes. There has been a rapid development of genomics resources for Brachypodium that is capped off by a project to sequence its entire genome. These genomics resources will be essential to employ Brachypodium to explore how to modify the genes of important grass crop relatives for diverse agricultural benefits, ranging from increased food production to improving the efficiency of biofuels production.
Technical Abstract: Grass crop genomics research frequently is hindered by large genome sizes and polyploidy. Although rice is an attractive system for grass genomics due to its small genome size and available genome sequence, it is not particularly well-suited as a robust model system for all grass crops. The wild grass species Brachypodium distachyon (L.) P. Beauv. (Brachypodium) has recently gained favor as a new model system for grass crop genomics research because it possesses a suite of biological traits desired in a model system. Further, it is more closely related to the large and diverse group of cool season grass crops than is either rice (Oryza sativa L.) or sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench.), the second grass crop species whose genome has been sequenced. Thus, by virtue both of its biological attributes and its evolutionary history, Brachypodium fills an important gap in grass crop genomics research. A surge in interest in Brachypodium has led to rapid and significant advances in the acquisition of knowledge and development of resources needed to exploit this species as a model system, including the impending completion of a draft nuclear genome sequence of Brachypodium. Integration of diverse genetic and genomic resources developed or under development for Brachypodium with the genome sequence will encourage further adoption of this species as a bona fide model plant system.