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Sequencing project results in six-fold reduction of effective size of maize genome

A team of scientists that includes a Washington University in St. Louis biologist, has evaluated and validated a gene-enrichment strategy for genome sequencing and has reported a major advance in sequencing large genomes. The team showed a six-fold reduction of the effective size of the Zea mays (maize or corn) genome while creating a four-fold increase in the gene identification rate when compared to standard whole-genome sequencing methods.

The Maize Genomics Consortium reported their results in the December 19, 2003 issue of Science magazine. Karel R. Schubert, Ph.D., Washington University affiliate professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, was the principal investigator of the study. Schubert is vice president of technology management and science administration at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis.

The Maize Genomics Consortium, consisting of The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), Purdue University, and Orion Genomics, was awarded a two-year, $6 million plant genome grant on September 20, 2002 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop and evaluate high-throughput and robust strategies to isolate and sequence maize genes. The two gene-enrichment methods used in the research published in Science are methyl-filtration and high-Cot selection.

According to Schubert and W. Brad Barbazuk, Ph.D., senior bioinformatics specialist and assistant domain member, both at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the overall goal of the pilot sequencing project in maize is to derive an effective strategy to sequence the maize genome. To meet this goal, the Maize Genomics Consortium will generate approximately 800,000 total sequence reads using the methyl-filtration and high-Cot methods, with the results published in Science describing the analysis of the first 200,000 sequence reads.

It is a challenging effort to sequence the maize genome, as its size and structure preclude
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Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
tony_fitzpatrick@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
8-Mar-2004


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