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Penn State, Delaware Get Corn Genetics Funding

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Scientists at Penn State University and the University of Delaware will use a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to collaborate on epigenetics studies seeking to improve corn crops, according to Penn State.

The three-year grant to Penn State will fund researchers seeking to develop precise genetic modification tools for plants, and it will support training programs in epigenetics and genetic variation.

"This project is focused on understanding the function of genetic modifiers that regulate gene expression via epigenetic pathways," Surinder Chopra, an associate professor of maize genetics at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, said in a statement. "Such modifiers can then be used in breeding programs for specific agronomic traits."

A number of graduate students at Penn State and the University of Delaware will work with faculty members to identify and map epigenetic factors, and they will be cross-trained in computational biology and gene regulation.

The program also will expose college students to advanced plant biology research techniques to study the molecular basis of gene regulation of tissue-specific gene expression. Some high school students also will participate in the project, working with teachers in a summer biotechnology workshop to study gene-expression techniques in maize.

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