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Genome sequence of bread mold revealed by international team, including Hebew University researcher

The genome sequence of the bread mold Neurospora crassa has been revealed by a group of 77 researchers from seven nations, among them Prof. Oded Yarden of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences.

The achievement, reported in the current issue of Nature magazine, represents a further stage in the history of research on this fungus. A half-century ago, George W. Beadle and Edward L. Tatum won a Nobel Prize for their work on Neurospora, which demonstrated for the first time that specific genes, as units of heredity, also encode the specific proteins that carry out much of the work of the cell.

"This first decoding of the Neurospora genome constitutes a breakthrough in the deeper understanding of the genetic base of this representative of the fungal kingdom. There are consequences as well for other life forms, including that of man," said Prof. Yarden.

Many of the basic cell processes of fungi are identical to those which take place in animals and humans, a fact which makes it possible to advance research in those life forms. Additionally, it is known that there is a significant number of genes in Neurospora which correspond to human genes. "The ease and speed with which we can conduct experimental work with this fungus will spur research on other genetic frameworks, leading to progress in developing future genetic-based medical treatment," said Prof. Yarden.

The researchers found that Neurospora has around 10,000 genes about double that found in bacteria -- as compared to some 14,000 in fruitflies and 21,000-39,0000 in humans. This means that humans are not that far in genetic complexity from the common bread mold.

A point of interest revealed by the scientists is that some 40% of the genes in the Neurospora fungus do not have equivalence in any other organisms. It is possible that future research regarding these genes could lead to development of anti-fungal mat
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-2-5882904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
30-Apr-2003


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