In fact, the Quatrano lab, in collaboration with the WUSTL lab of Raphael Kopan, Ph.D., in the Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, recently published a paper on the function of a gene in moss called presenilin that is very similar to a gene in humans that has been implicated in Alzheimer's disease.
Quatrano's interest in the moss genome focuses on genes that give the plant drought tolerance. Once these genes are identified, it is possible that they might be genetically engineered into other plants, including food crops, to make them resistant to drought, a boon for Third World countries.
Scientists also will scrutinize the moss genome for examples of genes that are conserved ones that appear in moss as well as other organisms, including humans and try to discern their function.
Quatrano cited the efforts of Washington University post-doctoral researcher Pierre-Franois Perroud, Ph.D., who isolated the moss DNA that JGI used to sequence the entire genome, as well as helping to identify contaminating sequences that were not in the moss genome. Also, David Cove from the UK was a visiting professor at WUSTL during this time and played an important consulting role in all aspects of the project. Support for Quatrano's lab effort came from National Science Foundation grants and from Washington University.
Quatrano says the process of accumulating scientists, annotating the assembled genome and publishing the paper, while long and difficult, is well worth the effort that he and his colleagues around the globe made.
"It's a great achievement, a real watershed in plant genomics," Quatrano said.
|Contact: Ralph Quatrano|
Washington University in St. Louis