Developments in genomics, which involves high-throughput DNA sequencing coupled to new analytical tools to identify genes associated with key traits, promise to make sweetpotato breeding much more efficient.
Sweetpotato is a hexaploid crop with two non-homologous ancestral genomes hypothesized. Knowledge of genome sequences is indispensable for basic biological research and long-term crop improvement. However, the polyploidy and the high degree of heterozygosity of the sweetpotato genome make it infeasible for whole genome sequencing.
As an alternative, we are in the process of generating high-quality genome sequences of diploid and highly homozygous accessions of Ipomea trifida and I. triloba, the two closest wild relatives and putative wild ancestors of the cultivated sweetpotato. The resulting two high-quality draft genomes will serve as references for cultivated sweetpotato and as the foundation for next generation breeding technologies for sweetpotato improvement.