Lentil in a Supercomputer

2021. September 06. - 09:27 The full genomic sequence of lentil is currently explored with the help of a supercomputer at the UD by the researchers of Centre for Agricultural Genomics and Biotechnology. This research has been selected as one of the ten most interesting projects of Governmental Agency for IT Development.

In Hungary, supercomputers have been applied in the course of as many as 400 projects in more than 70 academic fields in altogether 26 institutions so far. Out of the more than 100 currently running supercomputer-assisted projects, two from the University of Debrecen have made it into the first annual publication of HPC Competence Centre, titled HPC ECHO, including one carried out by researchers of Agrár Genomikai és Biotechnológiai Központ by the name DENOLEN.

“Supercomputers are often dubbed the laboratories of the 21st century, as they have become an essential and indispensable tool for modern biotechnological and genomic scientific activities. In the course of our research, we have sequenced the genetic agent (DNS) of a winter-hardy lentil (Lens culinaris L). As a result of the project, by the description of the genetic information of the lentil, it is possible to increase the efficacy of the breeding work by applying molecular genetic selection,” said Judit Dobránszki, Head of Agrár Genomikai és Biotechnológiai Központ (AGBK) to hirek.unideb.hu.

She also elaborated on how lentil is a cultivar of excellent nutritional value, which is cultivated primarily for its seeds. These days, when healthy diets come to the fore and in the center of attention, its significance becomes more and more appreciated. As it is also a first-rate fodder source, the entire plant can be of use for us.

“Lentil can very easily be fitted into sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural management. This is why it is important for us to get to know as much as possible about the genome of this plant. During the course of our research, we have collected plant samples from as many as 14 different phenological phases, i.e., stages of development of lentil. In each one of these stages, we have carried out RNA-sequencing in order to identify lentil genes and their functions. On the basis of the information thus collected, we will be able to decipher and record the complete genetic code and complete DNA basic sequence of lentils and how it operates,” said Judit Dobránszki.

Norbert Hidvégi, a researcher at AGBK added the following: during the course of evolution and breeding as a cultivar, lentils have amassed a number of repetitive sequences in their genomes, which makes the work of the researchers quite difficult.

“During the full genome sequencing process, we combine several methods in order to gain a more precise and effective understanding of the genetic material that encodes the characteristic features of lentils. With the help of the RNA-sequencing of the 14 phenological phases, we can now identify 118 197 genes,” said Norbert Hidvégi about the findings of the research project so far.

Data analyses of the full genome sequencing of lentil are carried out by the researchers of AGBK at DE Mezőgazdaság-, Élelmiszertudományi és Környezetgazdálkodási Kar [Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Environmental Management] with the help of the supercomputers operated by Kormányzati Informatikai Fejlesztési Ügynökség and HPC Kompetencia Központ in the cities of Szeged and Miskolc.

“The bio-informatic and molecular genetic analyses will be complemented in the future with field examinations of the breeding experts at the Nyíregyházi Kutatóintézet [Research Institute in Nyíregyháza] of DE Agrár Kutatóintézetek és Tangazdaság (AKIT) [Agricultural Research and Educational Farm]. As a result of the research findings, it will be possible to breed new plants that can better accommodate to the climatic changes and withstand abiotic and biotic stresses with and improved set of amino acids,” said Andrea Gulyás, another researcher from AGBK.

Research on the full genome sequencing of cultivated lentil has been supported by the Tématerületi Kiválósági Program [Thematic Excellence Program] (TKP2020-IKA-04) supported by Innovációs és Technológiai Minisztérium [Ministry for Innovation and Technology].

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