Gene Salad: Lettuce Genome Assembly Published

Represents Most Successful Group of Flowering Plants 

By Pat Bailey

Today (April 12), UC Davis researchers announced in Nature Communications that they have unlocked a treasure-trove of genetic information about lettuce and related plants, releasing the first comprehensive genome assembly for lettuce and the huge Compositae plant family.

Lettuce flower

Lettuce belongs to a large Compositae family of plants. A lettuce flower shows the similarity to plants such as ragweed and sunflowers. (Gregory Urquiaga)

Garden lettuce, or Lactuca sativa, is the plant species that includes a salad bar’s worth of lettuce types, ranging from iceberg to romaine. With an annual on-farm value of more than $2.4 billion, it is the most valuable fresh vegetable and one of the 10 most valuable crops, overall, in the United States.

Vote for the White House Farmer

UC Davis graduate student Margaret Lloyd is in the running for the position of White House Farmer (if the Obamas actually decide to appoint one, that is.) Lloyd previously helped set up the organic make-your-own salad garden outside the Plant and Environmental Sciences building on campus, and has been involved in many other sustainable farming activities. More information and voting here. Polling closes midnight on Saturday (Jan. 31), and the top three vote-getters will be forwarded to the White House for consideration.

Dateline: Salad Daze (May 2, 2008) Think globally, grow your veggies locally