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1] The oat genome

WP leader: Nick Sirijovski

To develop oat to its full potential, the sequence of its entire genome needs to be elucidated and characterized. As oat is a hexaploid crop though, sequencing has until recently been rather challenging and costly. ScanOats has a unique opportunity to initiate and successfully operate an oat genome sequencing project. Taking advantage of new sequencing technologies and a rapid development in bioinformatics, we believe that the oat genome sequence is now within reach.

The Belinda oat variety will be sequenced and provide insights into the fundamental biology of oat and facilitate the discovery of new and valuable plant characters in this important cereal. It would greatly accelerate further molecular characterisation of a number of oat lines with improved traits that have been identified in a mutagenized Belinda oat population e.g. increased levels of protein, lipids, β-glucan and avenanthramides, Fusarium resistance, salt tolerance, improved nitrogen uptake and many others.

The availability of an oat genome would allow for precise site-directed mutagenesis using CRISPR/Cas9 and other gene editing technologies. This would greatly improve and accelerate precision breeding and allow for the development of specialized niche oats at a level that hitherto has not been possible. Oat breeding would thus enter a new era with the development of specialized traits tailored directly for human health or industrial processes. In addition, an oat genomic reference sequence would be an important asset to both the academic and industrial research communities since it would attract more investments to oat product development, which directly would lead to further innovations in the field.

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