The field of plant genome assembly has greatly benefited from the development and widespread adoption of next-generation DNA sequencing platforms. Very high sequencing throughputs and low costs per nucleotide have considerably reduced the technical and budgetary constraints associated with early assembly projects done primarily with a traditional Sanger-based approach. Those improvements led to a sharp increase in the number of plant genomes being sequenced, including large and complex genomes of economically important crops. Although next-generation DNA sequencing has considerably improved our understanding of the overall structure and dynamics of many plant genomes, severe limitations still remain because next-generation DNA sequencing reads typically are shorter than Sanger reads. In addition, the software tools used to de novo assemble sequences are not necessarily designed to optimize the use of short reads. These cause challenges, common to many plant species with large genome sizes, high repeat contents, polyploidy and genome-wide duplications. This chapter provides an overview of historical and current methods used to sequence and assemble plant genomes, along with new solutions offered by the emergence of technologies such as single molecule sequencing and optical mapping to address the limitations of current sequence assemblies.
Part of the book: Plant Genomics