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NSF Awards $14M for Plant Genomic Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The National Science Foundation today said it has doled out $14 million to several centers to study plant genomics.
The money will go to several programs focused on “economically important plants” and will study their genome sequences, genetic markers, maps and expressed sequence collections, the NSF said.
Sharing the cash will be Iowa State University, whose researchers plan to study polyploidy in cotton; the University of Missouri, which will look into Brussels sprouts, canola, and the mustard relative Brassica; and the University of Georgia and the University of Arizona, which will develop sequence resources to further popular grain research.
The studies will also study weeds, which not only compete with crops for nutrients but are also related to some crops. For instance, Washington University will study the genome of red rice, a weed that greatly reduces yields of cultivated rice, to find out its relation to domesticated rice.
Also, researchers at Michigan State University will study gene expression in weedy and cultivated radishes to learn how plants become either weedy or invasive.
James Collins, assistant director for biological sciences at the NSF, said these projects will “provide the mortar” to build upon the “bricks” laid down by the Plant Genome Research Program, the US Department of Agriculture, and the National Agriculture Library program that  began in 1998.
Collins said the program will “tie together studies of the evolution of gene structure, function and regulation across the whole plant kingdom," Collins said.

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