Rice, first crop plant to be sequenced, may help fight world hunger, Science authors say

s a solid foundation for completing a high-accuracy sequence, enabling gene identification and facilitating physical and genetic mapping."

The rice genome may also aid researchers working on the genomes of other important cereal crops such as maize and wheat. Goff and colleagues were able to match 98 percent of publicly available maize, wheat and barley protein sequences to sequences within the japonica genome. Analysis also confirms that rice shows extensive "synteny" with these cereals--or, conservation of gene order and orientation between comparable chromosomes. The considerable overlap in genomes may make it easier to search for genes of interest, and to identify key regulatory regions across the genomes of these important crops.


Goffs comparison of the japonica and Arabidopsis genomes revealed similarities in genes related to disease resistance, and in some flowering time genes. Like the indica draft, the japonica draft contains roughly double the number of genes in the Arabidopsis genome, and around 88 percent of Arabidopsis genes can be found in the rice genome.


The japonica team searched for signs of any lateral transfer of genes between the rice and human genomes, a topic of recent interest, with the advent of genetically modified foods. Although rice and humans do share some sequence data, "there was no evidence to indicate that these genes or any genetic material had been laterally transferred to humans or human ancestors," suggesting that gene transfer from genetically modified rice would be unlikely, according to Goffs team.


Contact: Lisa Onaga
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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