Marselia vestita Genome Project
While the NCBI genome database has over 24,000 entries, there is not a single fern genome entry. On June 1, 2017, an undergraduate crowdfunding effort will commence at the University of Maryland in order to fund the sequencing of the water fern, Marsilea vestita. The crowdfunding effort will only last for one month.
This species has been chosen for several reasons:
1) M. vestita is a model for dormancy. Spermatid development proceeds without transcription as it recovers from its state of desiccation.
2) The regulated and timed completion of mRNA production appears to be achieved by detained splicing (retention of introns until release from dormancy), which is a potentially widespread mechanism of gene regulation in plants.
The lab of Professor Emeritus, Dr. Stephan Wolniak (University of Maryland) has collected extensive RNA-seq data during spermatid development, including three different time periods and numerous drug and RNAi treatments. Sequencing this genome will greatly facilitate analysis of the RNA-seq data.
In addition to providing undergraduate students with firsthand experience in this process, it will also provide the scientific community with a complete fern genome. Using fluorescence-activated flow cytometry with the help of Dr. Charles Delwich and Charles Goodman, we have determined that the M. vestita genome is between 500 and 600 Mb.. Our intention is to obtain a sequence using a mix of Illumina and PacBio methods.
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