Sat, Jun 30, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Academia Sinica researchers map orchid’s genome

MAP TO THE FUTURE:The local orchid industry could use the detailed information on the plant’s genetics to design new generations of orchids with attractive traits

Staff writer, with CNA

Researchers at Academia Sinica have constructed a genetic linkage map for the Phalaenopsis aphrodite orchid— a variety of the moth orchid indigenous to Taiwan, the institute said on Thursday, adding that it expects the research to boost the local orchid industry.

Research fellow Shih Ming-che (施明哲) and his team at the institute’s Agricultural Biotechnology Center have compiled a high-quality chromosome-scale assembly of the flower’s genome, Academia Sinica said in a statement.

The orchid species is native to Taiwan and has a beautiful, big flower and stalk shape, which Shih said makes it an important breeding parent for many commercial orchid hybrids.

Growers would be able to cultivate “high-end designer orchids” using the same molecular breeding techniques, Shih said.

For instance, growers could cultivate tailor-made Phalaenopsis varieties with unique colors and scents tailored to European customers, he added.

Chromosome-level assembly, and genetic and physical mapping of the flower’s genome also provides new insight into how the species adapts, so it would be an invaluable resource for genomics-assisted orchid breeding, the statement said.

The growth cycle of orchids can be two to three years and the traditional breeding method is time and energy-consuming, and has a lower success rate.

To stimulate demand in the global market, the local orchid industry has moved toward using molecular breeding techniques to generate desirable new varieties, the statement said, adding that the appearance of a new variety could give the industry a new lease of life.

Basic information about Taiwanese orchid genetics can help breeders identify important molecular markers, establish high-density genetic linkage maps and accurately design new generations of orchids with attractive genetic traits, it said.

The new insights obtained into orchids’ genome architecture would serve as a crucial resource for orchid-breeding, species conservation and comparative genomic studies, it said.

The findings could also be applied to the production of other crops, it added.

The research was published on April 28 in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

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