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NSF Awards $1M for Pilot Project on Arabidopsis Metabolomics

NEW YORK, Nov. 22 (GenomeWeb News) - The National Science Foundation has awarded $1 million to a research consortium investigating the feasibility of metabolomics in deciphering the functions of plant genes, Iowa State University, the lead institution for the project, said today.


The study, entitled, "Metabolomics: A Functional Genomics Tool for Deciphering Functions of Arabidopsis Genes in the Context of Metabolic and Regulatory Networks," involves investigators from seven institutions. Basil Nikolau, professor of biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology at IowaState and director of the Center for Designer Crops and the W.M. Keck Metabolomics Research Laboratory, is the principal investigator for the study.


The project falls under the NSF's "Arabidopsis 2010" program, which aims to fully characterize the Arabidopsis thaliana genome by 2010. Although Arabidopsis was the first plant to be fully sequenced, in 2000, the functions of about one-third of its 25,000 genes are still unknown.


The NSF grant will fund a two-year pilot project to identify the functions of 100 genes using metabolomics. Researchers will generate metabolomics and genomics data, conduct statistical analyses, develop standards for identifying metabolites, and complete biocomputational modeling and representation of the data, IowaState said.


"Metabolomics could potentially reveal how the genome of an organism controls and regulates the metabolism that maintains biological form and function," Nikolau said in a statement.


Other organizations in the research consortium include the University of California, Davis; the Carnegie Institution; the Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation; Kansas State University, Manhattan; Washington State University, Pullman; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg.

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