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An international team of scientists has completed the sequencing of the rice
genome, an accomplishment that should lead to the development of new
varieties of rice to meet different needs, including resistance to disease,
Researcher Takuji Sasaki of the National Institute of Agrobiological
Science and head of the Japanese team in the international effort, said
Monday that scientists from 10 economies completed mapping some 370 million
out of 390 million base pairs -- or 95 percent of the genome -- with an
accuracy of 99.99 percent.
The team made the report to agriculture minister Yoshinobu Shimamura.
Analysts say they expect the research to contribute to the identification of
useful genetic functions and lead to rapid improvement of crop varieties and
an increase in food production.
The results could also be used for production of new varieties of maize and
wheat that have similar features in their genetic maps to rice.
The rice used for the research was a Japanese variety called Nippon Bare, in
which the researchers found an estimated 40,000 genes.
Japan took the lead in deciphering the rice genome in 1991 and continued to
play a central role after the international joint research team began
decoding the genome in 1998, and was responsible for studying six of the 12
chromosomes found in rice, team members said.
The international team declared in December 2002 that it had deciphered the
genome after mapping 92 percent of it but has continued the project to map
The researchers said they are the first to release the results of precise
deciphering of the rice genome. The results have a margin of error of less
than one-10,000th, the researchers said earlier.
The international team includes researchers from the United States, Taiwan,
Thailand, China, South Korea, India, France, Britain, Brazil and Japan.
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