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The waratah genome

Assembling the waratah reference genome

The New South Wales waratah, Telopea speciosissima, is the floral emblem of the state and a striking and iconic Australian flower. The waratah reference genome has just been sequenced and represents a new resource to understand the evolutionary origin and dynamics of the Australian flora.

Previous work on this species has characterised population structure and patterns of divergence and introgression between T. speciosissima and related Telopea species. These studies were performed using a limited set of genetic markers, but point to the great potential of waratah as a model clade for understanding processes of divergence, environmental adaptation and speciation. To undertake genome-wide studies of these processes, a reference genome is needed. However, the distribution of species with sequenced genomes across the plant tree of life is highly uneven, with efforts focused on crops and their wild relatives, and few Proteaceae genomes and no waratah genomes are available. We assembled the first chromosome-level reference genome for T. speciosissima (2n = 22) using Nanopore long-reads, 10X Chromium linked-reads and Hi-C. The assembly spans 824 Mbp, representing 93 % of the estimated genome size, with a scaffold N50 of 69.1 Mbp and 91.1 % of complete embryophyta universal single-copy orthologs (BUSCOs) are present. This genomic resource will enable studies of genome-wide variation in waratah, accelerating our understanding of waratah diversification and evolution, and potentially facilitating the use of powerful marker assisted breeding approaches. Broadly, it represents an important new genomic resource in Proteaceae to support the conservation of Australia's flora.

Ms Stephanie Chen from the University of New South Wales and the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney presented her work in an online seminar given on Tuesday, 16 February 2021. Watch again this seminar in the video below:
For details of access to this e-seminar or more information about our seminars and future announcements, please contact Hervé Sauquet.