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Rosebush: Production of a high-quality genome reference sequence, an essential tool for plant breeding

An international consortium composed of 40 scientists, coordinated by INRA at Angers and gathering scientists from France (INRA, Agrocampus-Ouest, University of Angers), Germany (Leibniz Universität Hannover), The Netherlands (Wageningen University & Research), Belgium (ILVO – Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), Russia (Russian State Agrarian University) and Japan (Osaka Institute of Technology), has obtained a high quality reference genome for the rosebush by combining the last sequencing technologies with cellular and genetic approaches. This reference genome gives access to a new vision concerning the rose genome and its evolution; it opens new perspectives for plant breeding and also for the identification of genes involved in the control of petal number and thorn density. These results are published in Nature Plants on June 11th, 2018.

Rosa chinensis
Updated on 03/04/2019
Published on 06/11/2018

The rosebush is the most important ornamental plant worldwide for its economic, cultural, hedonic and symbolic value. Roses are cultivated all over the world and sold as garden, cutting or potted roses.

In order to better understand important ornamental traits and to accelerate breeding of new rose varieties, it is necessary to have access to a high-quality genome sequence. This new sequence will allow genetic and epigenetic studies to identify key genes controlling ornamental traits such as recurrent blooming, number of petals, thorns, self-incompatibility or resistance to diseases.

Thanks to high-density genetic maps, the genome has been assembled into 7 pseudomolecules, representing the 7 rose chromosomes. The sequence genome has a total size of 512Mbp, representing 551 contigs. The rose genome contains around 44000 genes.

Characterization of the gene controlling the number of petals in rose

Using this new genome sequence, the scientists were able to identify the gene which is responsible of the number of petals (difference between simple and double flowers). With the development of a genetic marker that makes it possible to predict the number of petals, the consortium is making these tools that can be used in assisted marker selection freely available to the international community.

Towards more resistant varieties
This new genome is a key resource for the community working on rose breeding. The genome will accelerate the breeding of more resistant rose varieties in order to reduce the use of pesticides. On this topic, in Angers, scientists study the diversity of rosebushes and their differences to identify which genes are involved in foliar disease resistance. A PhD project is also using the newly obtained rose sequence to understand how wild roses are classified. This might allow us to identify new sources of resistance against disease, and in a long term, to better control crosses.


The rose genome sequencing was obtained thanks to the financial support of ‘Région des Pays de la Loire’, ANR (National Research Agency), the RFI Objectif Végétal and INRA.

Fabrice Foucher, Research director at INRA, group leader of the GDO team at the unit IRHS, has coordinated the rose international genome sequencing consortium.


  • INRA, Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences, Angers, France;
  • ILVO, Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Melle, Belgium;
  • University of Angers, Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences, Angers, France;
  • Russian State Agrarian University-Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, Moscow, Russia;
  • Plant Breeding, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands;
  • ILVO, Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Plant Sciences Unit, Belgium;
  • Leibniz Universitat, Hannover, Germany;
  • Wageningen University & Research, business unit Bioscience, Wageningen, The Netherlands;
  • INRA, US 1279 EPGV, Universite Paris-Saclay, F-91000 Evry, France;
  • URGI, INRA, Universite Paris-Saclay, 78026, Versailles, France;
  • Osaka Institute of Technology, Osaka, Japan;
  • Agrocampus-Ouest, Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences, Angers, France


A high-quality genome sequence of Rosa chinensis to elucidate ornamental traits
L. Hibrand Saint-Oyant, T. Ruttink, L. Hamama, I. Kirov, D. Lakhwani, N. N. Zhou, P. M. Bourke, N. Daccord, L. Leus, D. Schulz, H. Van de Geest, T. Hesselink, K. Van Laere, K. Debray, S. Balzergue, T. Thouroude, A. Chastellier, J. Jeauffre, L. Voisine, S. Gaillard, T. J. A. Borm, P. Arens, R. E. Voorrips, C. Maliepaard, E. Neu, M. Linde, M. C. Le Paslier, A. Bérard, R. Bounon, J. Clotault, N. Choisne, H. Quesneville, K. Kawamura, S. Aubourg, S. Sakr, M. J. M. Smulders, E. Schijlen, E. Bucher, T. Debener, J. De Riek and F. Foucher
doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-018-0166-1

Scientific contact(s):

Associated Division(s):
Plant Biology and Breeding
Associated Centre(s):
Pays de la Loire, Versailles-Grignon