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University of Nevada Scientists Receive $3.85 Million Grant to Study Aribidopsis Plant Genes

NEW YORK, Aug. 27 (GenomeWeb News) - Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno, have received a $3.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the genes of Aribidopsis thaliana - a plant that harbors the ability to adapt to environmental stresses such as heat, cold, or lack of water.


According to Ron Mittler, an assistant professor of biochemistry at the university, knowing the function of genes that help protect Aribidopsis (also known as mouse-eared cress) against the environment could have an impact on agricultural productivity worldwide, particularly in arid regions.


"Aribidopsis is genetically similar to many crop plants," said Mittler. "Our focus is genes that are thought to have a role in the plant's production against environmental, or abiotic stress... Even a five percent improvement in agricultural production worldwide would have a huge economic, social and nutritional impact."


Mittler's Aribidopsis research team will be collaborating with Martin Gollery, associate director of the University of Nevada's BioinformaticsCenter and with scientists at the University of California, Riverside.


The researchers noted that though the Aribidopsis project is promising, the pace of research is such that technologies for improving crop harvests are at least a decade away.


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