The genome of the cucumber, an economically important crop, has been sequenced, according to a report published online this week in Nature Genetics.
The cucumber is part of the cucurbit botanical family, which also includes melon, watermelon, squash and pumpkin. Altogether, cucurbit crops utilize nine million hectares of land and yield 184 million tons of fruit, vegetables and seed each year. The cucumber is the seventh plant to have its genome sequenced, following the well-studied plant model Arabidopsis thaliana, the poplar tree, grapevine, papaya, and the crops rice and sorghum.
Jun Wang and colleagues used both traditional DNA sequencing methods and next-generation sequencing technologies to assemble the cucumber genome. This was the first time next-generation sequencing data was used in the initial assembly of a plant genome. The cucumber genome is 245 million base pairs, similar to the rice genome, which is 389 million base pairs. The sequenced genome will be a resource for plant breeders developing elite varieties of cucurbits and will also be useful for studying different aspects of plant development.