Exceptional subgenome stability and functional divergence in the allotetraploid Ethiopian cereal teff

Robert VanBuren*, Ching Man Wai, Xuewen Wang, Jeremy Pardo, Alan E. Yocca, Hao Wang, Srinivasa R. Chaluvadi, Guomin Han, Douglas Bryant, Patrick P. Edger, Joachim Messing, Mark E. Sorrells, Todd C. Mockler, Jeffrey L. Bennetzen, Todd P. Michael

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Teff (Eragrostis tef) is a cornerstone of food security in the Horn of Africa, where it is prized for stress resilience, grain nutrition, and market value. Here, we report a chromosome-scale assembly of allotetraploid teff (variety Dabbi) and patterns of subgenome dynamics. The teff genome contains two complete sets of homoeologous chromosomes, with most genes maintaining as syntenic gene pairs. TE analysis allows us to estimate that the teff polyploidy event occurred ~1.1 million years ago (mya) and that the two subgenomes diverged ~5.0 mya. Despite this divergence, we detect no large-scale structural rearrangements, homoeologous exchanges, or biased gene loss, in contrast to many other allopolyploids. The two teff subgenomes have partitioned their ancestral functions based on divergent expression across a diverse expression atlas. Together, these genomic resources will be useful for accelerating breeding of this underutilized grain crop and for fundamental insights into polyploid genome evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number884
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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