New collaboration on rice DNA variation study

11/17/05

The findings could contribute to more effective breeding programs, accelerating the development of hardier and more productive strains of rice.

Perlegen Sciences, Inc., and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) announced today that they will collaborate to identify DNA variation in fifteen rice strains. By identifying sequence variation between major rice varieties, the study will help uncover the genetic basis underlying important agricultural traits.

Rice is the world's number one food crop, providing the principal source of calories for nearly half the world's population. It is also a staple in the diet of some of the world's poorest but fastest growing nations. Booming population growth in areas with limited availability of arable land has created an urgent need for agricultural solutions that will help prevent hunger and malnutrition crises. The findings from this study could contribute to more effective breeding programs, accelerating the development of hardier and more productive strains of rice.

"We are committed to contribute to a greater molecular understanding of rice's genetic variation as a foundation for future rice improvement." said Dr. Robert Zeigler, Director General of the International Rice Research Institute." This study will allow us to associate variation in DNA with important traits such as drought resistance or vitamin and mineral content, ultimately helping us to breed rice strains that can be cultivated under more extreme environmental conditions or provide greater nutritional value."

"Rice is an important crop for world agriculture and an excellent candidate for a DNA variation study", said Dr. Kelly Frazer, Vice President, Genomics at Perlegen. "Combining Perlegen's high-throughput technology and experience in SNP detection with the International Rice Research Institute's pioneering studies in rice biodiversity gives us an opportunity to improve the quality of one of the most critical human food sources worldwide."

The collaborators plan to identify genetic variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, from across the whole-genome of the fifteen strains being studied using Perlegen's high throughput oligonucleotide array approach enabled by Affymetrix GeneChip® technology. While Perlegen's primary focus is on using this technology to personalize medicines, it also applies this approach to other types of genetic studies that could benefit humanity, including important genetic studies of plants and other species critical to human health. The application of this technology for SNP detection is made possible by the available "standards" of rice genome sequence contributed by the International Rice Genome Sequencing Project (IRGSP) and the Beijing Genomics Institute. All results from the study will be made public.

Terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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