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Research Consortium Sequences Plant Pathogen A. tumefaciens

NEW YORK, Dec. 17 — An international consortium of industry and academic scientists has sequenced the genome of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a plant pathogen that has become a workhorse for agricultural genetic engineering.

 

Results of the group's research appear in the Dec. 14 issue of Science.

 

The genomic project, launched in late 2000, was funded by the National Science Foundation and led by researchers from the University of Washington and at DuPont, with other collaborators at The Institute for Genomic Research, SRI International, Pioneer Hi-Bred, and Brazil's University of Campinas.

Before this partnership began, DuPont had already finished a rough draft of the sequence. The company, however, agreed to make all sequence data  public if the NSF funded the last stages of the effort.

 

Data are hosted by the University of Washington at www.agrobacterium.org. Menlo Park., Calif.-based SRI International contributed to the project with its Pathway Tools software, generating a computational analysis of the metabolic pathways in the bacterium. That data are available at www.ecocyc.org.

 

A. tumefaciens is a common soil bacterium that causes crown gall disease. It has become useful in agricultural biotechnology for its ability to transfer plasmid DNA into plant genomes, where it is stably integrated. Researchers also hope that by studying the bacterium they will be better able to understand the interactions between plants, animals, and the pathogens that infect them.

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