NEW YORK, Dec. 12-Philip Morris will underwrite the sequencing of the tobacco genome at North Carolina State University, the school said yesterday.
The tobacco company will provide the university with $17.6 million during the next four and a half years in order to create a tobacco genome map.
The Tobacco Genome Initiative will be lead by Charles Opperman, a plant pathologist and geneticist at NC State. Research will be done in his lab and at the university's new Genome Research Laboratory at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Opperman's team will also work with St. Louis-based Orion Genomics, which will supply its Gene Thresher gene identification technology.
This contract is among the largest the university has ever signed.
Philip Morris said it was funding the project in the hopes of ultimately developing less dangerous strains of tobacco.
The plant is also used as a model organism in botanical research.