So assembling Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian students and professors to examine the genome of grain sorghum, and tap into the collection of 40,000 different varieties from around the world, seems like the sensible thing to do.
Outreach to under-represented groups in hopes of attracting new scientists is part of a $2 million sorghum genome grant, funded under the Plant Genome Project of the National Science Foundation, recently awarded to a team led by Dr. Patricia Klein, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher at Texas A&M University's Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology.
Klein and co-investigators Dr. John Mullet and Dr. Robert Klein will work with Dr. Tineke Sexton at Houston Community College to teach aspiring students how to generate and analyze genetic fingerprints on the sorghum varieties and to present their findings in various scientific arenas. Mullet is the institute's director and Robert Klein is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service scientist.
"We need all the talent we can get in the sciences," said Mullet, himself once a liberal arts major with hopes for a law degree until a biology class grabbed his interest.
Here's how it will work. Klein, Klein and Mullet will train Sexton in their labs at Texas A&M. Sexton, in turn, will train HCC students to extract DNA and fingerprint a subset of lines from the 40,000-variety sorghum collection, using funds from the grant to help set up labs at HCC. The sorghum team also will give guest lectures to Sexton's classes in Houston, and the Internet will be used to keep the students and faculty connected.
Since the Plant Genome Research Project began in 1998, NFS has awarded some $375 million to 120 projects. Over the last decade, Mullet noted, NSF has emphas
Contact: Kathleen Phillips
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications