Biotech Updates

NSF Awards US$5 Million Grant to UGA for Corn Centromere Research

November 26, 2010

A research grant of US$5 million was awarded by the National Science Foundation to a group of researchers led by University of Georgia (UGA) plant scientist R. Kelly Dawe to study how maize and related species transmit genetic information. The research result may be useful in the development of artificial corn chromosomes that can successfully reproduce desirable traits, such as disease or drought resistance.

Specifically, the grant will be used to continuously study the function and evolution of corn centromeres – the DNA segment that ensures the delivery of the right numbers of chromosomes to the correct location during cell division. Initially, the team found out that the centromere DNA mutates rapidly. Research focus will be geared towards the understanding of "how centromeres evolve, what regulates the reproduction process and how that process can be replicated in artificial plant chromosome."

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