Bioinformatics for Cucumber Improvement

Pickling Cucumber Improvement Committee Meeting Abstract

Bruce S. Weir

Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University

There has been an explosion of genetics knowledge in the last few years as the new mega-science projects turn out sequence data on the genomes of several important species, including our own. With the widespread use of laboratory robots, determining the sequence of the chromosomes for a species such as cucumber is becoming routine. However, making sense of all that data is a huge problem. In a recent test of the fruit fly genome sequence, software that was used to find genes failed to find up to 95% of the genes, and incorrectly identified 55%.

The science of analyzing genome sequence data is known as bioinformatics. It is one of the newest fields of science. Bioinformatics tools are so primitive that we are not even certain how many genes there are in the human genome. Estimates range from 27,462 to 312,278.

Bioinformatics is progressing rapidly, however. Recently, databases have been made available on the world wide web for scientists to use with complete genome sequences for the following species: wild mustard, mouse, nematode, and human.

Bioinformatics will eventually provide the software to screen genetic data from genome sequencing projects and reveal genes of use to plant breeders and other scientists. Ultimately, it may be possible to search routinely for genes of interest in agricultural crops. Future researchers may want to identify genes that will make cucumber disease resistant, seedless, machine-harvest adapted, drought tolerant, or high in vitamin C.

For further information, contact:

Back to meeting schedule and overview or cucumber page.