The green plants (Viridiplantae) are an essential kingdom of life, responsible via photosynthesis for the majority of global primary production, and directly utilized by humankind for nutrition, animal feed, fuel, clothing, medicine and other purposes. There are an estimated 391 000 species of land plants, in addition to 8000 species of green algae. Their genomes are unusually diverse compared to those of other kingdoms, ranging in size from ∼10 Mb to over 100 Gb. Knowledge of plant genomes initially lagged behind those of other kingdoms but has greatly increased with the development of new technologies for DNA sequencing; bioinformatic analysis, rather than data production, is increasingly the bottleneck to further knowledge. Recent proposals are now contemplating the sequencing, assembly and annotation of the genomes of all of the world’s plant species; meanwhile, low coverage sequencing to measure diversity across collections and wild populations has already become commonplace for many species, especially those utilized as crops.
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