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Fruit flavor, loblolly pines, and cotton win genomics funding

The US National Science Foundation has awarded nearly $76 million to support 23 research projects on plant genomics. The money will fund efforts to determine the functions of the thousands of genes identified during plant genome projects in recent years. Major crops as well as other species are the focus of the funded studies. Here are three examples.

In a study on fruit flavor, researchers will identify genes involved in the metabolism of critical components of flavor and nutrition. The project will generate tools for breeding and engineering more flavorful fruit. It will also create a database of genomic information that can be used to study plant ripening.

Loblolly pines

Another study will investigate the early growth of loblolly pines, the primary commercial species in conifer forests in the southern U.S. The study will provide the first detailed overview of gene activity across the genome during embryo development in conifers. The information will be used to develop strategies to accelerate the propagation of trees.

A third project will focus on the evolution of cotton fiber. Scientists will compare the genetics of different fibers and explore the hypothesis that 'genome doubling' has led to crop improvement. The research aims to develop new tools and resources for the long-term sustainability of the world's leading textile fiber.

For a complete list of the 2002 Awards visit the National Science Foundation Web site here.

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NSF awards $75.6M for plant genome research. Press release, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia (September 26, 2002).

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