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NSF Awards Researchers $1.4M to Develop High-Quality Map of Cotton Genome

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Science Foundation has recently awarded a five-member research team $1.4 million in initial funding to develop a high-quality genome map for domesticated cotton.

The two-year grant was awarded to investigators at Clemson University, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

Earlier this year, investigators at the institutes published a paper in Nature Biotechnology detailing the sequencing of the cotton species Gossypium hirsutum, or Upland cotton, in collaboration with a group of Chinese scientists.

"We've got a map, but it's still a first draft," Clemson's Chris Saski, who co-authored that paper, said in a statement. "What we're now striving for is a reference-grade genome that has the resolution and accuracy necessary to unlock cotton's most complex secrets. The results from this project will have direct insights into polyploid genomes, and also lay the framework for deeper analysis into the genome of cotton with outcomes in both cotton cell biology and agriculture as a whole."

The reference-grade sequence, once complete, will be released to the research and breeding communities, the NSF said, noting that Upland cotton accounts for more than 95 percent of the world's cotton production.