Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 80, Issue 6, pp 555–569 | Cite as

Towards decoding the conifer giga-genome

  • John Mackay
  • Jeffrey F. D. Dean
  • Christophe Plomion
  • Daniel G. Peterson
  • Francisco M. Cánovas
  • Nathalie Pavy
  • Pär K. Ingvarsson
  • Outi Savolainen
  • M. Ángeles Guevara
  • Silvia Fluch
  • Barbara Vinceti
  • Dolores Abarca
  • Carmen Díaz-Sala
  • María-Teresa Cervera


Several new initiatives have been launched recently to sequence conifer genomes including pines, spruces and Douglas-fir. Owing to the very large genome sizes ranging from 18 to 35 gigabases, sequencing even a single conifer genome had been considered unattainable until the recent throughput increases and cost reductions afforded by next generation sequencers. The purpose of this review is to describe the context for these new initiatives. A knowledge foundation has been acquired in several conifers of commercial and ecological interest through large-scale cDNA analyses, construction of genetic maps and gene mapping studies aiming to link phenotype and genotype. Exploratory sequencing in pines and spruces have pointed out some of the unique properties of these giga-genomes and suggested strategies that may be needed to extract value from their sequencing. The hope is that recent and pending developments in sequencing technology will contribute to rapidly filling the knowledge vacuum surrounding their structure, contents and evolution. Researchers are also making plans to use comparative analyses that will help to turn the data into a valuable resource for enhancing and protecting the world’s conifer forests.


Conifers Giga-genome sequencing Functional genomics Comparative genomics Integrative studies 



The preparation of this article was supported by FoResTTraC (2440096 FP7) and ProCoGen (289841-FP7) UE projects. The authors are very grateful to Susana Ferrándiz for helping with the preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Mackay
    • 1
  • Jeffrey F. D. Dean
    • 2
  • Christophe Plomion
    • 3
  • Daniel G. Peterson
    • 4
  • Francisco M. Cánovas
    • 5
  • Nathalie Pavy
    • 1
  • Pär K. Ingvarsson
    • 6
  • Outi Savolainen
    • 7
  • M. Ángeles Guevara
    • 8
  • Silvia Fluch
    • 9
  • Barbara Vinceti
    • 10
  • Dolores Abarca
    • 11
  • Carmen Díaz-Sala
    • 11
  • María-Teresa Cervera
    • 8
  1. 1.Center for Forest Research, Institute for Integrative and Systems BiologyUniversité Laval, QuébecQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Davison Life SciencesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.UMR BIOGECOINRACestasFrance
  4. 4.Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology (IGBB)Mississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  5. 5.Departamento de Biología Molecular y Bioquímica, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de MálagaMálagaSpain
  6. 6.Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå Plant Science CentreUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  7. 7.Department of Biology and Biocenter OuluUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  8. 8.Genomics and Forest Ecology, Forest Research Centre INIA-CIFORNational Research Institute for Agricultural and Food Technology (INIA)MadridSpain
  9. 9.Health and Environment Department, Platform for Integrated Clone Management (PICME)AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbHTullnAustria
  10. 10.Bioversity InternationalMaccarese (Fiumicino) RomeItaly
  11. 11.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of AlcaláAlcalá de Henares, MadridSpain

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