Plant pan-genomes are the new reference

Nat Plants. 2020 Aug;6(8):914-920. doi: 10.1038/s41477-020-0733-0. Epub 2020 Jul 20.


Recent years have seen a surge in plant genome sequencing projects and the comparison of multiple related individuals. The high degree of genomic variation observed led to the realization that single reference genomes do not represent the diversity within a species, and led to the expansion of the pan-genome concept. Pan-genomes represent the genomic diversity of a species and includes core genes, found in all individuals, as well as variable genes, which are absent in some individuals. Variable gene annotations often show similarities across plant species, with genes for biotic and abiotic stress commonly enriched within variable gene groups. Here we review the growth of pan-genomics in plants, explore the origins of gene presence and absence variation, and show how pan-genomes can support plant breeding and evolution studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genes, Plant / genetics
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genome, Plant* / genetics
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Reference Values