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BTI's Brutnell leads part of NSF Computational Plant Biology Research System
Date:3/23/2010

ITHACA, NY. Boyce Thompson Institute Associate Scientist Thomas Brutnell is helping lead a group of life scientists and computer researchers who are attempting to solve one of the "grand challenges" in the plant sciences. The challenge is to predict how plants will grow and develop based on their particular genetic makeup and the various environments where they are found or planted. Solving this problem requires new computer software and computational capabilities, including powerful tools to allow scientists around the globe to collaborate on plant research.

The principles of iPlant, a nearly $50 million project funded by the National Science Foundation, include development of a cyberinfrastructure collaborative effort and also to train the next generation of scientists in computational thinking and to reinvent itself as the needs of the scientific community and technologies change. The formal name of the five-year effort is the Plant Science Cyberinfrastructure Collaborative (PSCIC) program.

iPlant hosted workshops for researchers from the biological and computational sciences that yielded the "grand challenge" questions that iPlant would tackle, as well as the tools, strategies and approaches needed to find answers to the questions.

The particular iPlant team involving Brutnell is the Genotypes to Phenotypes in Complex Environments (iPG2P) committee, which will help researchers study the relationship between plant genotypes the genetic makeup of particular plants and how those genotypes interact and express themselves in various environments. Brutnell's specific role is to help design a computational pipeline to process ultra high- throughput sequence datasets

"One of the great challenges in biology now is dealing with extremely large datasets, be it billions of bases of DNA sequence or millions of phenotypic measurements," said Brutnell, "We are working to make the processing and interrogation of these datasets eas
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Contact: Lorraine S. Johnson
lj25@cornell.edu
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
Source:Eurekalert

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