• Krishnakumar, V., Kim, M., Rosen, B. D., Karamycheva, S., Bidwell, S. L., Tang, H., & Town, C. D. (2014). MTGD: The Medicago truncatula genome database. Plant and Cell Physiology, pcu179.


    Medicago truncatula, a close relative of alfalfa (Medicago sativa), is a model legume used for studying symbiotic nitrogen fixation, mycorrhizal interactions and legume genomics. J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI; formerly TIGR) has been involved in M. truncatula genome sequencing and annotation since 2002 and has maintained a web-based resource providing data to the community for this entire period. The website (http://www.MedicagoGenome.org) has seen major updates in the past year, where it currently hosts the latest version of the genome (Mt4.0), associated data and legacy project information, presented to users via a rich set of open-source tools. A JBrowse-based genome browser interface exposes tracks for visualization. Mutant gene symbols originally assembled and curated by the Frugoli lab are now hosted at JCVI and tie into our community annotation interface, Medicago EuCAP (to be integrated soon with our implementation of WebApollo). Literature pertinent to M. truncatula is indexed and made searchable via the Textpresso search engine. The site also implements MedicMine, an instance of InterMine that offers interconnectivity with other plant ‘mines’ such as ThaleMine and PhytoMine, and other model organism databases (MODs). In addition to these new features, we continue to provide keyword- and locus identifier-based searches served via a Chado-backed Tripal Instance, a BLAST search interface and bulk downloads of data sets from the iPlant Data Store (iDS). Finally, we maintain an E-mail helpdesk, facilitated by a JIRA issue tracking system, where we receive and respond to questions about the website and requests for specific data sets from the community.

  • Tang, H., Krishnakumar, V., Bidwell, S., Rosen, B., Chan, A., Zhou, S., ... & Mayer, K. F. (2014). An improved genome release (version Mt4. 0) for the model legume Medicago truncatula. BMC genomics, 15(1), 312.



    Medicago truncatula, a close relative of alfalfa, is a preeminent model for studying nitrogen fixation, symbiosis, and legume genomics. The Medicago sequencing project began in 2003 with the goal to decipher sequences originated from the euchromatic portion of the genome. The initial sequencing approach was based on a BAC tiling path, culminating in a BAC-based assembly (Mt3.5) as well as an in-depth analysis of the genome published in 2011.


    Here we describe a further improved and refined version of the M. truncatula genome (Mt4.0) based on de novo whole genome shotgun assembly of a majority of Illumina and 454 reads using ALLPATHS-LG. The ALLPATHS-LG scaffolds were anchored onto the pseudomolecules on the basis of alignments to both the optical map and the genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) map. The Mt4.0 pseudomolecules encompass ~360 Mb of actual sequences spanning 390 Mb of which ~330 Mb align perfectly with the optical map, presenting a drastic improvement over the BAC-based Mt3.5 which only contained 70% sequences (~250 Mb) of the current version. Most of the sequences and genes that previously resided on the unanchored portion of Mt3.5 have now been incorporated into the Mt4.0 pseudomolecules, with the exception of ~28 Mb of unplaced sequences. With regard to gene annotation, the genome has been re-annotated through our gene prediction pipeline, which integrates EST, RNA-seq, protein and gene prediction evidences. A total of 50,894 genes (31,661 high confidence and 19,233 low confidence) are included in Mt4.0 which overlapped with ~82% of the gene loci annotated in Mt3.5. Of the remaining genes, 14% of the Mt3.5 genes have been deprecated to an “unsupported” status and 4% are absent from the Mt4.0 predictions.


    Mt4.0 and its associated resources, such as genome browsers, BLAST-able datasets and gene information pages, can be found on the JCVI Medicago web site (http://www.jcvi.org/medicago). The assembly and annotation has been deposited in GenBank (BioProject: PRJNA10791). The heavily curated chromosomal sequences and associated gene models of Medicago will serve as a better reference for legume biology and comparative genomics.

  • Young, N. D., Debellé, F., Oldroyd, G. E., Geurts, R., Cannon, S. B., Udvardi, M. K., ... & Van de Peer, Y. (2011). The Medicago genome provides insight into the evolution of rhizobial symbioses. Nature, 480(7378), 520-524.


    Legumes (Fabaceae or Leguminosae) are unique among cultivated plants for their ability to carry out endosymbiotic nitrogen fixation with rhizobial bacteria, a process that takes place in a specialized structure known as the nodule. Legumes belong to one of the two main groups of eurosids, the Fabidae, which includes most species capable of endosymbiotic nitrogen fixation1. Legumes comprise several evolutionary lineages derived from a common ancestor 60 million years ago (Myr ago). Papilionoids are the largest clade, dating nearly to the origin of legumes and containing most cultivated species2. Medicago truncatula is a long-established model for the study of legume biology. Here we describe the draft sequence of the M. truncatula euchromatin based on a recently completed BAC assembly supplemented with Illumina shotgun sequence, together capturing ~94% of all M. truncatula genes. A whole-genome duplication (WGD) approximately 58 Myr ago had a major role in shaping the M. truncatula genome and thereby contributed to the evolution of endosymbiotic nitrogen fixation. Subsequent to the WGD, the M. truncatula genome experienced higher levels of rearrangement than two other sequenced legumes, Glycine max and Lotus japonicus. M. truncatula is a close relative of alfalfa (Medicago sativa), a widely cultivated crop with limited genomics tools and complex autotetraploid genetics. As such, the M. truncatula genome sequence provides significant opportunities to expand alfalfa’s genomic toolbox.