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Checkbiotech: Rice genome helps put other cereals "On the map"
Posted by: DR. RAUPP & madora (IP Logged)
Date: October 14, 2004 07:40AM ;

Think of how superior a map showing roads, terrain, rivers, and cities is to
one showing just a featureless land mass. That's the thought behind the
research of ARS computational biologist Doreen Ware and colleagues working
with genome maps of rice, maize, and sorghum, October 2004 .

"Rice is the first crop whose genome has been almost completely
sequenced," says Ware, who is with ARS's Ithaca, New York-based U.S. Plant,
Soil, and Nutrition Laboratory. "But it'll be at least 3 to 4 years before
comparably detailed, sequence-based maps are available for maize and
sorghum, two important cereal crops in the same family as rice. That's
because of the cereal genomes' large size and complexity."

And that's why Ware, using genome maps and data already in the public
domain, is probing rice's genome sequence to fill in as many details as
possible about maize and sorghum. Genomes are complete sets of organisms'
genetic material.

"We're enhancing known information so that points of similarity between the
genomes of each crop are highlighted," she says. "We're focusing on the
genomes' infrastructure."

Ware is based on Long Island, at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a
private, nonprofit institution focusing on cancer, neurobiology, plant
genetics, and bioinformatics that allows her access to cutting-edge genomics
expertise and equipment.

"Young Investigators" Award Helps

Ware has received a $1.3-million "Young Investigators" award from the
National Science Foundation for this study. The foundation is an independent
federal agency supporting fundamental research and education across all
fields of science and engineering. Ware's grant runs through 2008.

"This work will add to our understanding of genome organization and the
evolutionary relationship between three agronomically important crops," says
Ware. "It will also develop methods for building and finishing comparative
maps that can both be applied to future genome-scale projects and help
identify genes involved in traits important to agriculture."

Ware says the public data she's using "will give information for locating
specific genes. I'll be able to explore whether genes are in the same or
different locations on the genomes of the three crops. The genes' position
may yield clues toward understanding how crop genomes have evolved."

Understanding evolutionary changes is important, Ware adds, because
familiarity with ancestral genomes allows scientists to look at the genetic
makeup of current crops and make best guesses as to which genes are likely
to perform the same functions.

"Ultimately, this project will help scientists and growers identify genes
responsible for traits that will lead to stronger, more nutritious crops,"
says Ware, who is being assisted by researchers at Texas A&M University, the
University of Missouri, and Purdue University.

Ware plans to develop a pilot high school curriculum based on her work.?By
Luis Pons, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

This research is part of Plant, Microbial, and Insect Genetic Resources,
Genomics, and Genetic Improvement, an ARS National Program (#301) described
on the World Wide Web at

Doreen H. Ware is with the U.S. Plant, Soil, and Nutrition Research Center,
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1 Bungtown Rd., Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724;
phone (516) 367-6979, fax (516) 367-8389.

"Rice Genome Helps Put Other Cereals ?On the Map?" was published in the
October 2004 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.


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