A consensus grass comparative map shows how grass genomes line up.
When the well's dry, we know the worth of water," wrote Benjamin Franklin under his Poor Richard alias. Not much has changed in 250 years as the United States, suffering one of the most devastating droughts in 90 years, painfully learns water's worth. The situation is gravest in the Southwest, which is enduring its fourth year of drought in five years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to add more counties to its list of drought disaster areas eligible for government relief funds.

As farmers hear their echoes returned from empty wells, imagine the stress on plants. Probably no environmental factor limits plant productivity more than water. "Dealing with water limitation is one of the most fundamental adaptations of all living organisms on the terrestrial domain," says John Mullet, director of the Crop Biotechnology Center at Texas A&M...

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