Melonomics: Sounds like a cancer, smells like a melon

The complete genome of a muskmelon launched a subfield dubbed melonomics


WHAT'S YOUR CODE  The melonomics project uncovered the genome of melons like this cantaloupe.

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/Meh-luh-NOH-miks/ n.

A project that deciphered the genetic blueprint, or genome, of melons. 

The melonomics project — named for melon genomics (and not for melanoma) — ran from 2009 to 2013 in Spain and sequenced the genome of Cucumis melo, a muskmelon species that includes varieties such as cantaloupe and honeydew.

Researchers have now analyzed the genetics of seven domesticated and wild varieties of muskmelon. The scientists identified genetic variations in more than fifty agriculturally important genes, including ones that control disease resistance and sugar production. Study author Jordi Garcia-Mas of the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics in Spain says that the new data, published July 14 in Molecular Biology and Evolution, will help melon breeding.

Complete genomes have been sequenced for many other major crops, including rice, tomatoes, soybeans and bananas. Unfortunately, the term “banananomics” does not appear to have entered the lexicon yet. But don’t despair: “Tomatomics” has.  

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