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WCMC-Q researchers unlock genetic secrets of date palm
Date:9/15/2009

Doha, Sept. 15, 2009 Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar have mapped a draft version of the date palm genome, unlocking many of its genetic secrets.

"We have generated a draft DNA sequence and initial assembly of the date palm using the most advanced technology," says Joel Malek, director of the Genomics Laboratory at WCMC-Q. Genetic information about the date palm is extremely valuable to researchers who are working to improve fruit yield and quality and to better understand susceptibility and resistance to disease.

"This is an important step for our biomedical research program," says Khaled Machaca, Ph.D., professor of physiology and biophysics and associate dean for basic science research. "It clearly demonstrates the feasibility and success of the most advanced genomics technologies in Qatar and represents a milestone towards establishing Qatar and Weill Cornell as a regional research center of excellence. In addition, this achievement by the WCMC-Q research team holds great promise for the application of the genomics technology to a better understanding of biomedical problems."

The date palm sequencing work was a proof of concept study, according to Malek, who established the genomics laboratory last year. The goal was to establish and validate the capabilities of the core lab for large-scale genomics projects. The lab is an integral part of a large biomedical research program launched last year by WCMC-Q with support from the Qatar Foundation that aims to make Qatar a hub for research in the Middle East.

To produce the draft map, the WCMC-Q researchers used a next generation sequencing approach, which Malek says offers data quality between that of the expressed sequence tag (EST) method and the traditional whole-genome mapping method. "We were able to develop a relatively unbiased view of the gene space of the entire date palm plant at a fraction of the cost and in a much shorter period of time. U
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Contact: Noura Zreik
noura.zreik@hillandknowlton.com
Weill Cornell Medical College--Qatar
Source:Eurekalert

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