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NSF Grants Cornell $5.5M for Genome Editing in Rice

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — Cornell University announced this week that scientists led by Adam Bogdanove have received a $5.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a gene editing project in rice.

The four-year grant will try to provide proof of concept that genome editing can be used to address important measurable agricultural traits in rice, including plant height, yield, disease resistance, and soil acidity tolerance. The scientists will develop a genome editing platform for crop breeding as well as new lines of rice expressing the improved traits.

Bogdanove said that the scientists have already identified particular stretches of DNA as candidates for the quantitative traits of interest.

The project will use data released in 2014 from an international project that sequenced 3,000 different rice genomes from around the world.

The grant did not mention the use of any particular genome editing technologies. Bogdanove is co-creator of transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs); Daniel Voytas, a professor at the University of Minnesota, chief scientific officer at Cellectis Plant Sciences and co-developer of TALENs, is also listed as a co- investigator on the grant. Rice genetics researcher Susan McCouch is also a co-investigator and a professor at Cornell.

In 2011, the NSF awarded researchers at Cornell and the University of California, Riverside $4.8 million to study transposable elements in the rice genome.