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Ontario Grants $2.7M for Genomics at Guelph

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Ontario has granted C$3.2 million ($2.7 million) for corn genomics research and DNA identification studies at the University of Guelph in Ontario, the university said today.

The Ontario Research Fund has granted C$2.8 million for studies of the genomics involved in corn growth, and it has granted C$400,000 for the University of Guelph-based Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding.

These funds will be augmented in the future by private-sector support from the company Syngenta, theuniversity said, bringing the total in cash and in-kind support for the four-year project to over C$8.5 million.

Most of those funds will go to studies conducted by the university's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology that aim to identify genes that control plant growth. The researchers want to alter the genes' activity in order to improve the plant, specifically genes that regulate nutrient uptake so they can improve nitrogen efficiency.

Corn is an important commodity for Ontario, and is worth over C$1.5 billion per year to the economy.

"Current agricultural practices can be made more sustainable," Steven Rothstein, the principal investigator on the grant at the university, said in a statement. "There is much room for improvement, and significant increases in productivity can be achieved by understanding key plant genes."

Ontario's International Barcode of Life Project is gathering barcode records for half-a-million species over the next five years, the university said, and when it is implemented it will "revolutionize access to biodiversity information from complex environmental samples such as water and soil," the university said.

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