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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