Two University of Washington researchers - Dr. Jun Yu, an American, and Dr. Gane Ka-Shu Wong, a Canadian - and a major new genome sequencing center in China have sequenced the genetic code for rice, one of the most important food staples in the world.
The Chinese center is making the complete genome sequence of rice available to the public. An analysis of the sequence will appear in the April 5 issue of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among the findings: rice may have more genes than humans.
The rice paper is only a start. Created just a few years ago, the Chinese center is now engaged in the sequencing of two other varieties of rice, as well as the genomes of corn, the pig and the chicken. All are staples of the Chinese diet.
"If you think about why the Chinese want to sequence rice, its the No. 1 food on the table. There is nothing in the Chinese diet that compares with rice," says Dr. Jun Yu, an American scientist who is one of the four lead authors on the paper, and the principal investigator for the rice project. He is a research scientist at the UW Genome Center, an associate director of the Chinese center, and a professor with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
A collaborator says that the world can expect other significant genomic news from the Chinese center in the future. "I am very impressed with the contributions the Chinese genome center has made to large-scale sequencing . Their institute joined the Human Genome Project at quite a late stage, but managed to make a substantial contribution. This demonstrates that they have rapidly gotten up to speed with comparable sequencing laboratories around the world," says Dr. Merete Fredholm, professor in the Division of Animal Genetics and Breeding of the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark.
"Their latest achievement, the sequencing of the rice genome, shows that they are still making rapid progress. No doubt they will
Contact: Walter Neary
University of Washington