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NSF Press Release


NSF PR 01-89 - November 1, 2001

Media contact:

 Andrea M. Dietrich

 (703) 292-8070

Program contacts:

 Christopher Cullis

 (703) 292-8470


 Jane Silverthorne

 (703) 292-8470

NSF Boosts Funding for Plant Genome Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded 24 new grants totaling more than $71 million over the next five years for plant genome research. These awards will be shared by 109 investigators at 39 institutions in 27 states.

The latest grants bring NSF's total investment in the National Plant Genome Research Program to more than $215 million. Many of these new projects build upon research success from the previous three years of the program. For example, when NSF began this program in 1998, only about 3,100 segments of DNA, known as expressed sequence tags (ESTs), were identified in corn and available in the public databases. Now, 106,595 ESTs are identified in corn and another 285,925 in soybeans.

"There has been an enormous growth in information on plant genomes. The new awards are building on these recent accomplishments and will help increase our understanding of the basic life processes in plants, which can, in the long term, provide the underpinning for advances in plant biotechnology," said Dr. Mary E. Clutter, NSF Assistant Director for Biological Sciences.

The overall plant genome research program was designed to build an understanding of the structure and function of plant genes important to agriculture, environmental management, energy and health. Individual research projects seek to understand, at the whole genome scale, how plants grow and what controls important plant traits. The research awards support studies of economically important crops like barley, cotton, corn, rice, sorghum, soybean and tomato.

Some of the new projects will focus on innovative methods for gene discovery and characterization. These include the development of homologous gene replacement, massively parallel signature sequencing and mutations induced by transposons.

Scientists will investigate the genetic control of form and function in flowers, from flowering to seed production. Projects will characterize the genes controlling the differentiation of flower cells and examine genes that play a central role in development of plant features.

Other research will investigate the complex gene networks that regulate plant response to environmental conditions such as: drought, disease, temperature and flowering time.

The growing field of bioinformatics will be critical to processing the volumes of data from the Plant Genome Research Program. Two new NSF awards are focused on developing tools to accurately manipulate the data and make it accessible to the wider community. Researchers will develop new computer algorithms to process data and new interfaces for scientific manipulation of the data.


Attachment: List of Plant Genome Awards


List of Plant Genome Awards

For complete listing of the awards and collaborations, see:

Boyce Thompson Institute, $3,995,267/4 yr; PI: Johnathan Comstock
(partners: Cornell University, Oklahoma State University)

University of California Berkeley, $5,343,199/5 yr; PI: Sarah Hake
(partners: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Iowa State University, University of Illinois Urbana, University of Missouri Columbia)

University of California Berkeley, $1,532,663/5 yr; PI: Peggy Lemaux
(partners: Oregon State University, USDA-ARS)

University of California Davis, $5,803,691/4 yr; PI: Douglas Cook
(partners: The Institute for Genomic Research, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, University of Minnesota Twin Cities)

University of California Davis, $471,134/1 yr; PI: Deborah Delmer
(partners: Alabama A&M University, Michigan Technological University, Texas Tech University, University of Rhode Island)

University of California Davis, $952,441/2 yr; PI: Blake Meyer

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, $1,990,821/4 yr; PI: Robert Martienssen

Cornell University, $1,365,830/3 yr; PI: Susan McCouch

Cornell University, $6,499,895/5 yr; PI: Steven Tanksley
(partners: Boyce Thompson Institute, Clemson University)

University of Georgia, $1,132,318/4 yr; PI: Peggy Ozias-Akins
(partner: Texas A&M University)

University of Georgia, $3,962,498/4 yr; PI: Andrew Paterson
(partners: Clemson University, Cornell University)

University of Georgia, $3,576,195/3 yr; PI: Lee Pratt
(partner: Texas A&M University)

Iowa State University, $648,549/3 yr; PI: Thomas Peterson

Iowa State University, $4,227,981/5 yr; PI: Kan Wang
(partner: North Carolina State University, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin Madison)

Iowa State University, $158,996/2 yr; PI: Volker Brendel

Kansas State University, $500,000/2 yr; PI: Jan Leach
(partners: Iowa State University, Ohio State University, University of California Davis)

Michigan State University, $5,072,963/5 yr; PI: Michael Thomashow
(partners: Ohio State University, Oregon State University)

University of Minnesota Twin Cities, $3,081,245/4 yr; PI: Ronald Phillips

University of Missouri Columbia, $2,339,81/3 yr; PI: Kathleen Newton
(partners: University of Utah, Washington University)

North Carolina State University, $5,860,002/4 yr; PI: Ralph Dean
(partners: Clemson University Ohio State University Purdue University, Texas A&M University, University of Arizona, University of Kentucky)

Pennsylvania State University, $7,399,286/5 yr; PI: Claude DePamphilis
(partners: Cornell University, University of Alabama, University of Florida University of Michigan)

University of Utah, $1,564,877/3 yr; PI: Gary Drews

VA Polytechnic Inst & State University, $3,587,432/4 yr; PI: Pedro Mendes
(partners: The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, South Eastern Oklahoma State University)

Yale University, $435,432/2 yr; PI: Vivian Irish




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