Onion Genome Sequencing Project

Sequon - Onion Genome Sequencing

To meet the need to produce food for an increasing world population, production levels of food must increase while using less land and inputs such as water, nutrients and pesticides. Onion is an important crop worldwide. For the Netherlands, onion has a high economic value as 90% of the onion bulbs produced in the Netherlands are exported. Dutch breeding companies not only breed onions for the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, but also for the United States, South America, Asia and Australia. In terms of global production value, onion ranks second after tomato. In terms of genetics and genomics, knowledge on the onion genome is scarce compared to tomato. The tomato genome is fully sequenced, whereas little is known about the onion genome. This is partly due to the huge size of the onion genome (16GB). Sequence information is extremely valuable for the identification of genes associated with important traits such as disease resistance and for understanding the underlying mechanisms. The availability of the onion genome will speed up onion breeding and lead to several innovations.


The purpose of this project is to sequence the onion nuclear DNA and provide an annotated de novo genome assembly. Next generation sequencing technologies that have been developed recently, make large-scale sequencing of genomic DNA very efficient and relatively cheap.


In this project it is proposed to use sequencing of gene-rich regions of onion by combining transcriptome sequencing and enrichment from lower-copy regions by removing repetitive DNAs. Next to sequencing, bioinformatics (assembly and annotation of the sequences) will be the major part of the project. The plant material that will be used is a doubled haploid (DH) line.

International Context


The project will run from January 2013 till December 2017.