NSF awards two plant genome grants to University of Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL--Two groups of plant scientists at the University of Minnesota have each received four-year, $3.1 million grants from the National Science Foundation to study the genomes of legumes and corn as part of NSF's Plant Genome Research Program. They are among 24 new grants totaling more than $71 million, which will be shared by 109 investigators at 39 institutions in 27 states. Both grants are renewals of previous NSF grants to the scientists.

The corn project is headed by Ronald Phillips, Regents Professor of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. The university received the total award of $3,081,245. The legume project is coordinated at the university by Nevin Young, a professor of plant pathology and plant biology, and involves five other investigators at the University of Minnesota. The total award for the project is $5,803,691, of which the university received a subaward of $3,098,136. The principal investigator is Douglas Cook of the University of California-Davis. Other partners are The Institute for Genomic Research in Maryland and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Oklahoma.

The corn project will allow Phillips and his colleague Howard Rines, a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist and adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, to continue work on a system to map genes of the corn plant in a highly efficient manner, which will facilitate subsequent analysis of how the genes work separately and together. The grant is unusual in that no other institution is involved.

To map the genes, corn is crossed with oats. The hybrid plant often rejects all 10 corn chromosomes, but some plants retain one corn chromosome, Phillips said. Hybrids retaining each of the corn chromosomes have been produced and irradiated, which breaks the chromosomes into fragments. Hybrid plant lines with a single fragment of a corn chromosome have been produced. Scientists are "isolating corn genes left and righ

Contact: Deane Morrison
University of Minnesota

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