James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

January 13, 2010

No strawberry genome ::sniff::

Filed under: Site Business — James @ 12:26 am

From the article on the genome at scienceblog.com:

Contrary to the information posted in the article on January 11, 2010, the strawberry genome sequence has not been completed or released.

The news release above was a premature and highly inaccurate dissemination from the USDA. The strawberry genome has not been published, it has not been released, and analysis is not complete.

The genome of diploid strawberry (Fragaria vesca) will be sequenced and released in 2010. The effort was led by an international consortium representing over 40 institutions and the efforts of countless researchers. Details can be found at strawberry.vbi.vt.edu.

A formal presentation of the current state of the draft sequence was presented by Dr. Vladimir Shulaev at the Plant Animal Genome Conference in San Diego on December 9th, 2010 (editor’s note: as pointed out in the comments this was almost certainly intended to read January 9th, 2010). This presentation was potentially misinterpreted as a formal announcement, and a conversation with a scientist on the project laced the above article with inaccurate interpretations.

The draft sequence will be published shortly after complete analysis and peer review. The above article is not accurate in many facets and should not in any way be considered representative of the scientific efforts of the Strawberry Genome Sequencing Consortium.

The work was also supported by many organizations in addition to Roche, with substantial financial and other commitments from sources including (but absolutely not limited to) Virginia Tech, IASMA Research Center (Italy) University of Florida, Driscoll’s Strawberry Associates, Plant and Food Research (New Zealand) and the USDA.

A formal retraction of the initial press release is being pursued.

Kevin M. Folta
University of Florida, on behalf of Dr. Vladimir Shulaev and the Strawberry Genome Sequencing Consortium

From the outside it is hard to know exactly what happened but clearly SOMEONE jumped the gun and the internet echo chamber, of which I’m apparently now a component, swung into motion.

My apologies go out to everyone involved in the strawberry genome sequencing project, and anyone who was reading about the woodland strawberry genome here who got as excited as I did about the possibilities.

I’d still be fascinated to load a pre-release version of the strawberry genome into CoGe when/if it becomes available. And speaking as someone who has done gene annotation work previously on an newly sequenced genome CoGe is a GREAT tool to have  when one is sanity checking gene models and contig assembly.


  1. James,

    Thanks a lot. You’re right, someone jumped the gun with a press release. They are not completely incorrect in that we’re extremely close!

    We’ll definitely give you pre-release information for CoGe analysis. I think you’ll find that the gene models are particularly robust and assembly is quite good. This was a pass-the-hat-and-pay-for-a-genome effort done 100% with short read sequencing. This community effort makes it really rather unique.

    Thanks for your post.

    Kevin Folta
    for the Strawberry Genome Sequencing Consortium

    Comment by Kevin Folta — January 13, 2010 @ 5:52 am

  2. Wow! I am very impressed that Dr. Vladimir Shulaev was able to give a talk almost a year into the future! I thought they would be done by sometime before December based on this press release, odd that it (his talk, in the future) will only be about the draft. They must be about to run into some problems. Makes you wonder how misinformation could get started in the first place.

    Comment by Greg — January 13, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  3. Heh.

    You raise a good point Greg. Hopefully this date, that I too presume is a a mix up between December and January, won’t go viral and be used by others to dispute the existence and/or safety for human observation of the woodland strawberry genome when it gets released to the public. 😉

    Comment by James — January 13, 2010 @ 9:26 am

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