Genome Project Overview

Bouquet of species dahlias grown from seeds collected in Mexico as part of the Genome Project.

The American Dahlia Society (ADS) is currently working to sequence the dahlia genome. The scientific work is being done at the Harkess Lab at Auburn University and HudsonAlpha, the largest DNA sequencing lab in the U.S. The American Dahlia Society received a $23,000 matching gift to fund this work in 2021 from the Scheetz-Chuey Foundation. These funds, when fully matched, will support a graduate student for two years who will work exclusively on the dahlia genome under Dr. Alex Harkess of Auburn University.  The benefit to the dahlia community of having the dahlia genome sequenced is that a genome road map will ensure future scientists study the dahlia and their work will produce more precise and faster results.

Phase One in 2016 began with Dr. Virginia Walbot of Stanford University collecting species dahlia seeds in their native habitat in Mexico.  Those seeds were grown out and were RNA sequenced.  The results of that work determined that modern and species dahlias are genetically indistinguishable.  This work suggests that, like dogs, dahlias spring from a common gene pool with wide variations in individual characteristics.
Phase Two will be done at Auburn University and HudsonAlpha with the help of local ADS dahlia growers who will provide plant material for the lab. With a full-time graduate student working on the dahlia genome, we are hoping to resolve the dahlia family tree and fully sequence the species dahlia genome along with the genomes of 15 modern day dahlias selected from show winners at the 2021 ADS National Show in Ohio.

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