There is currently a growing demand for reliable high quality gum producing Acacia senegal. This is because the existing natural woodland based systems show considerable variability in gum quality. As well as the established molecular markers (AFLPs and SS Rs), the "ASGEN" study will employ the novel and innovative approach of association genetics in order to identify markers that are linked to gum quality or genes responsible for gum quality. Gum quality is a good example of a complex trait where the genetics of the trait is poorly understood. Sequence based assays will be developed following the creation of cDNA libraries from selected tissues of A. senegal. Single pass sequencing of such libraries will be used to create a catalogue of Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) that will be used to develop single nucleotide polymorphic (SNP) markers. In addition candidate genes for gum production will be isolated and haplotype based association genetic tests will be used to identify and validate the association of candidate genes with gum quality.
The availability of SSR, AFLP and SNP markers will be used to understand population structures in the sample population. New tools for the management of genetic resources and new approaches to examining biodiversity in a tropic al tree species will be derived from the study. The researcher will improve and diversify his expertise in plant molecular technologies, as well as a variety of complementary skills. Technology interaction will give new opportunities for European researchers but will also benefit specific problems in Kenya (DC country). The partnership will also enhance visibility to European research and provide tangible opportunities for sustainable deployment of genomics technology. A re-integration phase is also proposed.
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