The sunflower genome provides insights into oil metabolism, flowering and Asterid evolution

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is an important oil crop and, according to the authors, “the only major crop domesticated in North America.” Assembling its genome has been difficult as more than three quarters of it is made up of young (less than one million years old) long-terminal repeat retrotransposons. Badouin et al. report a reference genome for sunflower which they generated from long reads. Their data revealed the evolutionary history of sunflower. Through quantitative genetics, and expression and diversity data, they identified genes and gene networks associated with flowering time and oil production, two important breeding traits. Nature 10.1038/nature22380