The genome that feeds the world

Two independent groups report draft sequences of the rice genome.

Jonathan Weitzman(

Rice is one the most highly consumed cereals in the world and is the staple diet of over half the world's population. In the April 5 Science, two independent groups report the first draft sequences of the rice genome. Stephen Goff and researchers at Syngenta's Torrey Mesa Research Institute (TMRI) in California, carried out whole-genome shotgun sequencing of the Oryza sativa L. Ssp. japonica subspecies (Science 2002, 296:92-100), while scientists in China, at the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), chose the widely cultivated Oryza sativa L. Ssp. Indica (Science 2002, 296:79-92).

The availability of data from two subspecies will provide ample material for comparative genomics. The first observation is the differences in reported size: the BGI group report a genome that is 10% bigger (at 466 Mb) than the TMRI sequence (420 Mb); both are relatively small for a grass genome. It remains to...

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