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University of Arizona plant scientists to unravel maize genome

Researchers at The University of Arizona's plant sciences department and UA's BIO5 Institute have received a $29 million federal grant as part of a consortium to unlock the genetic code of the corn plant. The knowledge gained from the Maize Genome Sequencing Project will enable plant scientists and breeders to improve agronomically important traits in cereal crops more rapidly.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) chose the UA team and its partners from a highly competitive pool of applicants including the Broad Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute.

The National Science Foundation has selected a consortium of four research institutions to sequence the maize genome: The University of Arizona, Washington University in St. Louis, Iowa State University in Ames and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The UA team previously collaborated with Washington University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as part of an international consortium to unravel the rice genome sequence, which was published in Nature in August 2005.

The goal of the Maize Genome Sequencing Project is to unravel the complete DNA sequence of the maize plant and to determine the number of genes and their position on the chromosomes - the tiny bundles of DNA that form the storage units of genetic information.

The grant further strengthens and expands Arizona's leading position in genomics research, which is considered a key ingredient in building a leading-edge bioindustry. Genomics - the analysis of an organism's complete set of genes - provides the basis for the improvement of crops, development of new drugs or finding the ultimate causes for disease. The Battelle Memorial Institute's 2002 AZ Bioscience Roadmap, commissioned by the Flinn Foundation, identified UA's genomics research capabilities as one of the university's core strengths with high potential for leveraging of state investments.

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Source:University of Arizona


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