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NSF awards $4.3 million to Rutgers for Maize Genome Sequencing Project

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. Rutgers is receiving a $4.3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, part of a $10.2 million, two-year NSF initiative funding two projects that will sequence the maize (corn) genome. The goal is to determine the order and position of the genes on the plant's large and complex chromosomes.

The first of these projects is based at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and is led by Joachim Messing, director of Rutgers' Waksman Institute of Microbiology and a principal investigator on the Maize Genome Sequencing Project. The Rutgers initiative will involve a collaboration with researchers at the University of Arizona. The second project will be managed by investigators at the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center in St. Louis, who will collaborate with The Institute for Genomic Research, Rockville, Md.

"This may be the most important genome research since the Human Genome Project, perhaps even more important in terms of societal implications and breaking new scientific ground," said Messing. "This research will generate information that enables scientists and farmers to make major improvements in one of the world's most significant crops and develop new approaches to genomic studies."

Maize dominates agriculture in the United States, where approximately 9 billion bushels of corn double the yield of any other crop are produced annually at a value of $30 billion. Over and above its value as a primary food crop, corn is increasingly being used in a wide range of applications. While more than half of the annual crop feeds domestic livestock, corn has become a common ingredient in manufactured products, including adhesives, batteries, cosmetics, fuel, pharmaceuticals, sweeteners and wallpaper.

The first complete plant genome to be sequenced was Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant in the mustard family with a relatively simple genetic structure. The maize genome is 20 times the si
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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
1-Oct-2002


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