Implementation period: May 2012 – December 2015 | Project Leader: Antonio C. Laurena, PHD

This research program addresses the need for sustained development of abaca varieties with ABTV resistance and high fiber quality using conventional plant breeding methods which will be facilitated using the knowledge and modern tools of genomics. Genomics, the study of a genome which represents the totality of the traits of an organism, provides knowledge and information on genome composition, gene expression, and metabolic processes which can accelerate improvement of breeds of crops and animals through better fundamental insights and strategies using genomics tools.

Study 1: High Throughput Discovery of Genes and Molecular Markers for ABTV Resistance in Abaca
(AC Laurena, Study Leader)
Study 2: High Throughput Discovery of Genes and Molecular Markers for Good Fiber Quality in Abaca
(G Diaz, Study Leader)

Assembly and Annotation of Abaca (Abuab) genomic data. Assembled genomic data of Abaca and annotation of its functional genes. From the annotated genome of abaca (cv abuab), putative functions related to fiber quality were elucidated, such that of: 38 genes coding for polysaccharide synthases and glycosyl transferase, 93 genes coding for Assembly, Architecture and Growth, 43 genes coding for differentiation and Secondary cell wall formation, and 5 genes coding for Structural proteins. These fiber quality related genes were used to develop molecular markers.

Abaca (Abuab), Pacol, and BC2 exome filtered genome library. Total of 822 genes were identified in the exome filtered genome library. Functional analysis of these genes revealed that half of these genes are believed to be related to fiber quality and involved in ABTV resistance. Also differential analysis of these genes revealed novel genes present only in one genotype (Abuab, Pacol and BC2), which then can be used for the possible elucidation of the mechanism of fiber development and disease resistance.

Molecular Markers. Development of SSR-based markers and gene specific markers from the genomic data and exome filtered genome library. Screening of these markers were done for the three genotypes and native abaca cultivars.

DNA barcoding and Phylogenetic analysis of Native abaca cultivars. A total of 54 native cultivars were collected from PhilFIDA experimental stations. A region of the chloroplast gene rbcL – RuBisCo large subunit – is used for barcoding the abaca cultivars.

The Abaca Functional Genomics Project is a cross-listed project of PGC with the University of the Philippines Los Baños.