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Last updated 12:35AM ET
November 25, 2017
St. Louis Public Radio News
St. Louis Public Radio News
Corn Genome Mapped
(2008-02-25)
(St. Louis Public Radio) - Scientists at the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University have sequenced the corn genome.

They say the sequencing will help researchers develop better crop varieties and help companies like Monsanto look for genes that make corn more nutritious or more efficient for ethanol production.

The United States is the world's top corn grower, producing 44% of the global crop.

Rick Wilson, director of Washington University's Genome Sequencing Center, says mapping the corn genome is important because scientists will now be able to determine how to better utilize the crop.

"And this does not just necessarily mean making new strains of corn using basic biology," said Dr. Wilson. "But it's to gain a better understanding of how corn grows naturally, and how we might be able to do a better job of breeding the characteristics that are most important for growth and consumption."

Wilson says it was a challenge for researchers to sequence the plant because 80% of the DNA segments are repeated.

"If you want to make the jigsaw puzzle analogy, it's lots of pieces of blue sky and blue water and very few details that allow you to put the pieces together," Wilson said.

The $26 million project was funded by the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Agriculture.

The blueprint of the corn genome will be officially announced on Thursday in Washington DC.
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