Crop Biotech Update

K-State Researchers: Prioritize Areas on the Plant Genome in Studying Crops

December 5, 2012

In the past, scientists analyzed an isolated part of the genome, applying trial and error strategy to find genes that control certain traits. In a recent study titled "Genic and non-genic contributions to natural variation of quantitative traits in maize" published in Genome Research journal, Jianming Yu and colleagues at Kansas State University used genome-wide associate studies (GWAS) in the corn genome. Through this method, the researchers looked for small, frequent variations in the genome that affect the risk of a certain disease. They found that, on average, 79 percent of detectable genetic signals are concentrated at previously defined genes and their promoter regions.

"We used to think that genes are the only search priority and there were just many other less important or useless DNA sequences," Yu said. "But now we are starting to see that these other regions harbor some important genetic codes in them. Canvassing without prioritizing can be cost prohibitive, however, and efficient GWAS in crops with complex genomes still need to be carried out by taking advantage of a combination of genome technologies available."

The original article is available at