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All eyes and ears on the corn genome
Date:3/13/2008

A consortium of researchers led by the Genome Sequencing Center (GSC) at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., announced today the completion of a draft sequence of the corn genome.

In the fall of 2005 the NSF, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), awarded $32 million to two projects to sequence the corn genome. The goal of the project led by the Washington University GSC is to develop a map-based genome sequence for the B73 inbred line of corn.

This groundbreaking sequencing project was funded by the NSF under the auspices of the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI). The initiative, which began in 1998, is an ongoing effort to understand the structure and function of all plant genes at levels from the molecular and organismal, to interactions within ecosystems. NPGI's focus is on plants of economic importance and plant processes of potential economic value. Sequencing the corn genome is one of the major goals of the current initiative.

"Corn is one of the most economically important crops for our nation," said NSF Director, Arden L. Bement, Jr. "Completing this draft sequence of the corn genome constitutes a significant scientific advance and will foster growth for the agricultural community and the economy as a whole."

According to the USDA, more than 80 million acres of land in the United States is devoted to growing corn, accounting for more than 90 percent of the total value of feed grain.

"Corn is a vitally important crop," said Rick Wilson, lead investigator and director of the GSC. "Scientists will now be able to accurately and efficiently probe the genome to develop new varieties of corn that increase crop yields and resist drought and disease. The information we glean from the corn genome is also likely to be applicable to other grains, such as rice, wheat and barley."

Sequencing the corn genome has been an immense and daunt
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Contact: Lily Whiteman
lwhitema@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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