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Project Documentation & Protocols: Maize Gene Discovery Project: Education:

Contents: Maize Gene Discovery | The Challenge of Maize Genetics | Why Discover Maize Genes? | Finding Genes
Linking Genes to Function | Creating Databases | Building a Storehouse | Accomplishments | What's Next? | Glossary

To date, the Maize Gene Discovery Project, has

  • Sequenced more than 115,000 ESTs. When the project began, only 3000 maize ESTs resided in GenBank, the federal repository for genetic sequence data. Now, GenBank holds about 160,000 ESTs . the identifying information for more than 30,000 tentative unique maize genes.
  • Using an unusual transposon capturing strategy, MGDP has discovered about 5000 genes directly within genomic DNA. At least 3400 of these match known ESTs, indicating that these are indeed genes with active functions in the maize plant. Because the transposon strategy finds genes at random, this is another indication that the EST project has found about 60% of the expected gene number of maize (3400/5000 = 66%). During the final year of the project, the rate of gene discovery using RescueMu will accelerate.
  • Produced seeds for more than 5000 mutant maize phenotypes along with genetic sequence data for many of these mutations.
  • Quadrupled the number of seed stocks available from the Maize Genetics Cooperation Stock Center. By project end, that number will double again.
  • Created microarrays of ESTs from four different maize tissues: endosperm, seedling root, immature leaf, and immature ear.
  • Generated two sets of microarrays, each containing spots of cDNA for about 15,000 unique maize genes. These two unigene sets were assembled when large collections of ESTs were available. They enable researchers to study, on a single slide, which of these many genes is turned on in any particular tissue, developmental stage, or environmental condition. This kind of genome-level tool can only be produced by projects on the scale of the Maize Gene Discovery Project.
  • Established public, web-based databases containing all the information generated by the project in a useful format.
  • Engineered a variety of bioinformatics tools allowing computerized comparison of newly discovered genes with existing maize and other plant genomic data.
  • AND

  • Achieved these goals at a cost of 5 cents per taxpayer.

Katherine Miller, a freelance science writer, contributed the text for this page to the Maize Gene Discovery Project. You can reach her at [email protected].

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