International Consortium for Sunflower Genomics resources - ICSG-Initiative


The domesticated sunflower, Helianthus annuus L., is a global oil crop that has promise for climate change adaptation, because it can maintain stable yields across a wide variety of environmental conditions, including drought. Even greater resilience is achievable through the mining of resistance alleles from compatible wild sunflower relatives, including numerous extremophile species. The consortium has established a high-quality reference for the sunflower genome (3.6 Gb). The genome mostly consists of highly similar, related sequences and required single-molecule real-time sequencing technologies for successful assembly. Genome analyses enabled the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the Asterids, further establishing the existence of a whole-genome triplication at the base of the Asterids II clade and a sunflower-specific whole-genome duplication around 29 million years ago. An integrative approach combining quantitative genetics, expression and diversity data permitted development of comprehensive gene networks for two major breeding traits, flowering time and oil metabolism, and revealed new candidate genes in these networks. The genomic architecture of flowering time has been shaped by the most recent whole-genome duplication, which suggests that ancient paralogues can remain in the same regulatory networks for dozens of millions of years. This genome represents a cornerstone for future research programs aiming to exploit genetic diversity to improve biotic and abiotic stress resistance and oil production, while also considering agricultural constraints and human nutritional needs.


Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, “INRA”, France

Dr Loren RIESEBERG - University of British Columbia, Canada     

Dr John BURKE - University of Georgia, USA

Dr Sariel HUBNER - Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL), Israel


- Badouin H, et al., (2017) The sunflower genome provides insights into oil metabolism, flowering and Asterid evolution. Nature. 546 (7656):148-152. doi: 10.1038/nature22380.

- Kane, N.C., Gill, N., King, M.G., Bowers, J.E., Bergès, H., Gouzy, J., Bachlava, E., Langlade, N.B., Lai, Z., Stewart, M., Burke, J.M., Vincourt, P., Knapp, S.J., and Rieseberg L.H. (2011) Progress towards a reference genome for sunflower. Botany (89:429-437)


Sonia Vautrin