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Top Story

Gene salad: Lettuce genome assembly published

National Science Foundation-funded researchers have unlocked a treasure-trove of genetic information about lettuce and related plants, releasing the first comprehensive genome assembly for lettuce and the huge Compositae plant family. Garden lettuce, or Lactuca sativa, is the plant species that includes a salad bar’s worth of lettuce types ranging from iceberg to romaine. With an annual on-farm value of more than $2.4 billion, it is the most valuable fresh vegetable and one of the 10 most valuable crops, overall, in the United States. The huge Compositae family includes the good, the bad, and the ugly of the plant world, from the daisy and sunflower to ragweed and the dreaded star thistle. The genome assembly--a compilation of millions of DNA sequences into a useful genetic portrait--provides researchers with a valuable tool for exploring Compositae family’s many related plant species.

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