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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Clean Water Fund > Forever Green Initiative > Genomic Resources for Helianthus divaricatus

Developing Genomic Resources for Helianthus divaricatus to Facilitate the Development of Perennial Sunflower for Food Production and Wildlife Services


Principal Investigator:
Yaniv Brandvain, Assistant Professor
Department of Plant Biology

Project Summary

Goals and Objectives: We ultimately aim to develop a perennial and cold hardy sunflower that competes economically with commercial sunflowers in Minnesota. This would provide ecosystem services in attracting pollinators, and will increase sustainability by minimizing soil inputs.  The woodland sunflower, Helianthus divaricatus has a range extending into northern Canada, produces rhizomes, needs little water, and can be readily crossed to the domestic sunflower H. annuus. It therefore represents a great source of genetic improvement towards our aims, and we are actively pursuing experiments to begin this improvement. Genomic resources, specifically an integrated genetic-physical map, would buoy these efforts by allowing us to leverage the advances of modern genomic-based breeding methods. This is the focus of our Research.

Approach and Methodology: To generate an integrated genetic-physical map, we will sequence one H. divaritcatus sample with two complementary technologies – high-depth Illumina short read sequencing to learn the genetic identity of the nucleotides that make up this genome, and long read PacBio sequencing to put these nucleotides in order. Knowing the genetic distance between markers across the genome is necessary for our breeding objective, and we will therefore generate a genetic map by sequencing a reduced representation of the genome of hundreds of offspring from a cross between two H. divaricatus individuals. We will use standard computational approaches to unify these genetic and genomic maps.

Anticipated outcomes: We expect a high quality integrated genetic and physical map of H. divaricatus that will assist in the development of a perennial cold hardy sunflower. 

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