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'Panning for gold' in the maize genome

It was developed by a team led by Robert Martienssen and W. Richard McCombie at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

The second method, developed by researchers at the University of Georgia, removes the repeated sequences by separating the DNA into "high-copy," gene-poor segments and "low-copy," gene-rich segments.

Led by Cathy Whitelaw, the research team at TIGR compared sequences obtained by the two methods. About one fourth of the genes in each collection matched known gene sequences. About 35 percent of the genes were represented in both collections.

Each method was found to enrich for distinct but complementary regions of maize's 10-chromosome genome. Combined, the methods could cut the amount of sequencing necessary to find all of the maize genes to about one-fourth of what it would take to sequence the entire genome.

As both methods yielded short stretches of sequence, a major challenge was to reassemble these into complete genes. To do this, the Cold Spring Harbor group lined up the sequence pieces from maize along the rice genome sequence, a deep draft of which was completed in 2002 by an international consortium. The researchers then reassembled selected sets of sequence fragments into complete genes. This approach will be an important part of assembling the short pieces of DNA yielded by the two enrichments methods into complete gene clusters.

According to Silverthorne, "Together, these findings suggest that scientists could be able to sift out the approximately 450 million base pairs of DNA containing the genes from the maize genome and then reassemble the sequence. Such a comprehensive genomic resource would provide growers and breeders a wealth of tools to improve maize, as well as other cereal crops."


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Contact: Sean Kearns
skearns@nsf.gov
703-292-1963
National Science Foundation
18-Dec-2003


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