Genome of Chinese bamboo decoded

Feb. 26, 2013 at 8:55 PM

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Chinese scientists report they have decoded the genome for a variety of bamboo in hopes of improving it and using the plant as an alternative to wood.

The results of the study of moso bamboo, a giant timber bamboo that can grow to more than 90 feet tall, have been published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Jiang Zehui, leader of the researchers responsible for decoding the genome, said the team began their work on the moso bamboo, the most common species used in the bamboo textile industry of China, in 2007, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

China is the world's biggest grower and user of bamboo with 9.5 million acres of moso bamboo, which accounts for 72 percent of the country's bamboo-planting area.

One of the fastest-growing plants in the world, moso bamboo can grow 40 inches in just 24 hours if conditions are favorable.

The decoded genome will allow scientists to modify the species and find new uses for it, Han Bin, a senior genetics researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

The decoded genome will also help alleviate food shortages for giant pandas, Han said.

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