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NSF Grant Funds Center To Crack Corn in Missouri

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COLUMBIA, Mo.--Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture and university collaborators will establish a new maize genetics research center at the University of Missouri's campus here, the agency announced. The center is being funded through a five-year, $11.1 million grant from the US National Science Foundation.

"The new maize genetics research center will expand our scientists' capacity to improve corn as a food and feed crop through harnessing biotechnology and computers to crack the plant's genetic code," said Eileen Kennedy, deputy undersecretary for research, education, and economics.

Three USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists based here will collaborate on the maie project with three colleagues at the University of Missouri and scientists from Clemson University, and the University of Georgia. Geneticist Edward Coe, based at the department's Plant Genetics Research Unit here, said the project will aim to develop maize that is tailored to produce special food and industrial products, resist environmental stresses, provide improved animal nutrition, be produced more efficiently with less agrichemical input; and produce higher yields, in order to minimize reliance on environmentally fragile land for adequate food supplies.

Coe and colleagues here began work in the 1970's on an informal maize genome map database that was formalized in 1991. A map containing information on all corn genes is expected to be completed by 2002.

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