pan-genome dataset advances silkworm research
the construction of the silkworm pan-genome opens a new era of silkworm molecular breeding. (photo: southeast university)
by lin yuchen
chinese scientists recently constructed the world's first silkworm pan-genome dataset and digital gene bank, which may invigorate global silkworm research and improve silkworm breeding, according to southwest university.
with the dataset, silk yields could be improved and finer silk could be produced through more effective artificial selections. scientists can now more conveniently determine which specific character genes of silkworms contribute economically, such as disease resistance and excellent feeding performance, and then design breeding blueprints accordingly, according to the university.
"studying a specific character gene used to take three to five years," said tong xiaoling, professor and leading researcher of the silkworm pan-genome dataset at southwest university, adding that with the dataset, the time-span of character gene studies could be shortened to only a few months or even days.
taking four years to complete, the pan-genome research re-sequenced 1,078 silkworms deeply, covering almost the entire genomic content in the species. its results have been published on nature communications in september, bringing about the largest third-generation pan-genome dataset in the global realms of plants and animals.
the construction of the silkworm pan-genome signifies a breakthrough in silkworm breeding by opening a new era of silkworm molecular breeding, said xiang zhonghuai, academician at the chinese academy of engineering, adding that this is the biggest achievement in silkworm research over the past century, digitizing silkworm research through the advent of sci-tech-backed silk industry.
there is now further evidence that the origins of silkworms date back to the middle or lower reaches of the yellow river over 5,000 years ago, converting from wild silkworm, according to the research.