The Tomato Sequencing Project, the First Cornerstone of the International Solanaceae Project (SOL)
The genome of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is being sequenced by an international consortium of 10 countries (Korea, China, the United Kingdom, India, The Netherlands, France, Japan, Spain, Italy and the United States) as part of a larger initiative called the ‘International Solanaceae Genome Project (SOL): Systems Approach to Diversity and Adaptation’. The goal of this grassroots initiative, launched in November 2003, is to establish a network of information, resources and scientists to ultimately tackle two of the most significant questions in plant biology and agriculture: (1) How can a common set of genes/proteins give rise to a wide range of morphologically and ecologically distinct organisms that occupy our planet? (2) How can a deeper understanding of the genetic basis of plant diversity be harnessed to better meet the needs of society in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner? The Solanaceae and closely related species such as coffee, which are included in the scope of the SOL project, are ideally suited to address both of these questions. The first step of the SOL project is to use an ordered BAC approach to generate a high quality sequence for the euchromatic portions of the tomato as a reference for the Solanaceae. Due to the high level of macro and micro-synteny in the Solanaceae the BAC-by-BAC tomato sequence will form the framework for shotgun sequencing of other species. The starting point for sequencing the genome is BACs anchored to the genetic map by overgo hybridization and AFLP technology. The overgos are derived from approximately 1500 markers from the tomato high density F2-2000 genetic map (http://sgn.cornell.edu/). These seed BACs will be used as anchors from which to radiate the tiling path using BAC end sequence data. Annotation will be performed according to SOL project guidelines. All the information generated under the SOL umbrella will be made available in a comprehensive website. The information will be interlinked with the ultimate goal that the comparative biology of the Solanaceae—and beyond—achieves a context that will facilitate a systems biology approach.