Researchers at the Institute for Genomic Research, known as TIGR, have been sequencing the first food crop genome as part of an international consortium for the last six years. The completed sequence, published in Nature, unveils a genome consisting of roughly 400 million DNA bases holding 37,544 genes on rice's 12 chromosomes.
"Rice is a critically important crop, and this finished sequence represents a major milestone," said Robin Buell, lead investigator for TIGR's portion of the project. "We know the scientific community can use these data to develop new varieties of rice that deliver increased yields and grow in harsher conditions."
The genetic map will greatly speed the hunt for genes that increase yield, protect against disease and pests, or provide drought-resistance in rice and other cereal crops, said Buell.
"Rice is the Rosetta Stone for crop genomes," Buell says. "We can use the rice genome as a base for genomic studies of cereals."