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Reference genome of maize, most important US crop, is published by team co-led by CSHL scientists
Date:11/19/2009

Cold Spring Harbor, NY A four-year, multi-institutional effort co-led by three Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) scientists culminated today in publication of a landmark series of papers in the journal Science revealing in unprecedented detail the DNA sequence of maize (Zea mays). Maize, or corn, as it is commonly called by North American consumers, is one of the world's most important plants and the most valuable agricultural crop grown in the United States, representing $47 billion in annual value.

The sequence spans 2.3 billion DNA base-pairs and contains some 32,500 genes, or about one-third more than the human genome, according to the team that assembled it over the last four years. This version of the maize genome -- taken from a variant called B73 -- is important, in part, because it is regarded by the scientific and agricultural communities as a "reference" version. It represents a significant filling-in of gaps in a draft maize sequence announced a year and a half ago, but more importantly, comes with what amounts to a detailed reference manual, a set of comprehensive annotations.

A scientific and practical landmark

"Both the sequence itself and the annotations are a landmark," says Doreen Ware, Ph.D., a co-principal investigator of the project whose CSHL lab focused primarily on the annotation and evolutionary analysis. Principal investigator of the Maize Genome Project of the National Science Foundation, which provided funding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy, is Richard Wilson, Ph.D., of Washington University, St. Louis. Other co-principal investigators include scientists from the University of Arizona and Iowa State University.

In a parallel effort, Ware's CSHL team also helped generate the first so-called "HapMap" of maize in collaboration with Edward Buckler, a USDA scientist. The HapMap, a shorthand for haplotype map, gauges diver
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Contact: Peter Tarr
tarr@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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