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

ing task. At 2.5 billion base pairs covering 10 chromosomes, this genome's size is comparable to that of the human genome. Corn also has one of the most complex genomes of any known organism and is one of the most challenging genomes sequenced to date. The draft sequence will allow researchers to begin to uncover the functional components of individual genes as well as develop an overall picture of the genome organization. Completing the draft sequence, which covers about 95 percent of the genome, is an important milestone on the way to refining the complete genome sequence.

"Creating a completed draft of the corn genome brings us one step closer to our goal of understanding the functional genetic components that influence hybrid vigor, drought and pest resistance, and asexual plant reproduction or apomixis - all special traits that make corn valuable," said James Collins, head of the Biological Sciences Directorate at the NSF.

The National Corn Growers Association, a strong supporter of the sequencing project and an advocate of the NPGI, notes that elucidating the complete sequence and structure of all corn genes, associated functional sequences and their locations on corn's genetic and physical map, has many potential benefits. These include: creating a model for other major genome sequencing projects, enhancing the efficiency of modern corn breeding programs, increasing understanding of corn's important agronomic traits, and strengthening the physical and intellectual scientific processes of the genetic research community.

Pam Johnson, chairman of the Research and Business Development Action Team for the National Corn Growers Association, adds, "This effort is especially critical at this time in history, when the growing global population looks to corn and other plants to supply food, feed, bioenergy and biobased materials. It is time to learn the language of corn as a model that has great potential and economic significance."

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Contact: Lily Whiteman
lwhitema@nsf.gov
703-292-8070
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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