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Plant pan-genomes are the new reference

An Author Correction to this article was published on 02 November 2020

This article has been updated


Recent years have seen a surge in plant genome sequencing projects and the comparison of multiple related individuals. The high degree of genomic variation observed led to the realization that single reference genomes do not represent the diversity within a species, and led to the expansion of the pan-genome concept. Pan-genomes represent the genomic diversity of a species and includes core genes, found in all individuals, as well as variable genes, which are absent in some individuals. Variable gene annotations often show similarities across plant species, with genes for biotic and abiotic stress commonly enriched within variable gene groups. Here we review the growth of pan-genomics in plants, explore the origins of gene presence and absence variation, and show how pan-genomes can support plant breeding and evolution studies.

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Fig. 1: Comparison of pan-genome approaches.
Fig. 2: The growth of pan-genome publications.
Fig. 3: Different sources for novel genes.

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  • 02 November 2020

    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.


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P.B., A.G., A.S., J.B. and D.E. wrote and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to David Edwards.

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Peer review information Nature Plants thanks Xuehui Huang, Fay-Wei Li and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Bayer, P.E., Golicz, A.A., Scheben, A. et al. Plant pan-genomes are the new reference. Nat. Plants 6, 914–920 (2020).

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