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Nov 20, 2009

USDA Complete Corn Genome Sequencing

After four years of research, the USDA has announced that its scientists have complete sequencing the corn genome.  This is the largest and most complex plant genome sequenced to date.

According to the adminstrator of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Edward B. Kipling, "Sequencing the corn genome will help researchers in the United States and around the world develop corn varieties to confront critical global challenges like climate change, hunger, and renewable energy."

This research provides greater knowledge regarding the interaction between genetics and the environment.  It will lead to the development of new corn varieties "with higher yields and better tolerance of droughts, pests and diseases. It also should help scientists produce varieties with fibers, stalks and cellular structures that will make corn a better source of biofuel."

The effort was funded with $29.5 million from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.  It included participation from the ARS Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, N.Y., Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., Iowa State University at Ames, University of Arizona at Tucson and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.

Plants that have already been sequenced include rice, sorghum, poplar, grape and Arabidopsis thaliana.

For more see:

Feuillet, Catherine and Kellye Eversole.  "Plant Science: Solving the Maze," Science (20 Nov. 2009) 326:5956, 1071-1072.

O'Brien, Dennis.  "USDA Scientists, Colleagues Sequence Corn Genome."  USDA, Agricultural Research Services, 19 Nov. 2009.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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