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The first reference genome of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) : a domesticated compilospecies. Grassa, Christopher J.


I present the first reference genome for sunflower, Helianthus annuus. The reference is 3.6 billion base pairs long and is divided into seventeen lines of text representing the DNA of sunflower’s seventeen chromosomes. This reference was constructed via DNA sequencing and assembly of sunflower line HA412, physical mapping using a sequence-based barcoding approach, and genetic mapping based on low coverage DNA sequencing of a highly polymorphic mapping population. I also assembled and annotated a reference genome of sunflower’s mitochondrial genome. Sunflower and its wild relatives are a useful system for studying ecology and evolution. Helianthus annuus may be regarded as a natural compilospecies; adaptive introgressive hybridization with related species has facilitated the expansion of its range over a variety of soils and climates. In addition, the compatibility of sunflower with its extremophile wild relatives offers the opportunity to breed environmentally resilient sunflower cultivars that can cope with global climate change. The resource described in this thesis will be a useful tool for evolutionary biologists and crop breeders with interests pertaining to sunflower genetics.

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