NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Scientists in Florida will use a $1.5 million federal grant to study the genetic controls in maize that make it possible for cells with identical genomes to express different traits and create unique plants, Florida State University said today.
FSU will use funding from the National Science Foundation's Plant Genome Research Program and partner with Florida A&M University to conduct genomic and cellular studies involving gene expression in order to understand genetic control of processes such as seed and grain development.
"What we find will provide insights and valuable comparisons for understanding how other plants and animals regulate their genetic information," Hank Bass, an associate professor and molecular biology researcher at FSU, said in a statement. "It may bridge a gap between molecular genetics and cell biology, and could have important implications for how to study and understand basic processes in humans such as development and disease."
The partners will seek to develop new technologies for studying the organization of the maize genome and how it changes in response to development and genetic inputs.
"My co-investigator [FSU Associate Professor]Jonathan Dennis has pioneered the use of combined biochemical, genomic and computational techniques to study the functional organization of human chromatin, the complex mixture, including DNA and associated proteins in which gene expression occurs," Bass said.
"Surprisingly, maize and humans have almost identical genome sizes and complexities," he added. "We have simply substituted maize tissues for human tissues, and the maize genome for the human genome, and plan to transfer the technologies from animals to plants."