Studies of crop domestication have the potential to provide insight into the genetic basis of agronomically-important traits. Comparative analyses further afford researchers the opportunity to investigate whether or not similar traits have arisen in different crop species as a result of selection upon the same or different genes. The Compositae, which is the largest family of flowering plants, contains numerous important crop species. To date, much of the crop-related research in this family has focused on sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) and lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). The research outlined herein seeks to utilize cutting-edge DNA sequencing technologies to develop the first high-density genetic map of safflower, (Carthamus tinctorius L.), which is a third crop species within this family. This map will facilitate subsequent comparative genomic analyses between safflower, sunflower, and lettuce, thereby enabling an investigation of the potential for parallel genetic changes across three crop species.

Beyond providing fundamental insights into the genetic basis of crop-related traits, this work will provide valuable molecular tools for the safflower breeding community, both in developed and developing worlds. In addition to contributing to the training of a female graduate student, this work will also provide University of Georgia undergraduates with hands-on research experience.

Project Report

Studies of crop domestication have the potential to provide insight into the genetic basis of agronomically important traits. Comparative analyses further afford researchers the opportunity to investigate whether or not similar traits have arisen in different crop species as a result of selection upon the same or different genes. The Compositae, which is the largest family of flowering plants, contains numerous important crop species. Prior to this work, much of the crop-related research in the Compositae focused on sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) and lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). The research conducted here focused on safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), a third crop species within this important plant family. Safflower is an underutilized oilseed crop that is resistant to drought. This work utilized whole-genome shotgun sequencing to develop the first ultra-dense genetic map of safflower, which has and will continue to facilitate comparative genomic analyses among Compositae species. The work here specifically compared the genetic basis of domestication traits in safflower and sunflower, providing evidence supporting the hypothesis that the same genes are involved in the independent selection for similar traits in these two oilseed crops. Beyond providing fundamental insights into the genetic basis of crop-related traits, this work has and will continue to provide valuable molecular tools for the safflower breeding community, both in developed and developing worlds. Additionally, this work contributed to the training of a female graduate student, who received a PhD by conducting this and related work.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Environmental Biology (DEB)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1110350
Program Officer
Elizabeth Friar
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-06-01
Budget End
2014-05-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$15,000
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Georgia
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Athens
State
GA
Country
United States
Zip Code
30602