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Project Documentation & Protocols: Maize Gene Discovery Project: Education:
Maize Gene Discovery - Generating the Building Blocks for Maize Research

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

In 1998, with a $12.5 million National Science Foundation grant, the Maize Gene Discovery Project (MGDP) set out to identify a majority of maize (Zea mays) genes in five years' time. They also planned to develop mutant seeds, databases, and various tools that could be used to determine the function of many maize genes. With that foundation established, they hoped researchers could more efficiently pursue studies that will improve crop yields, contribute to our understanding of cereal genetics, and promote fundamental discoveries in plant biology. Click here to learn more about Why Maize Genes Matter.

Maize genetics researchers face unique challenges.

  • The maize genome is almost as big as the human genome;
  • Genome size and organization varies greatly among maize subspecies;
  • Maize genomes contain multiple copies of most genes;
  • Jumping genes or transposons make up a large portion of the genome
Click here to learn more about the Challenges of Maize Genetics.

The ambitious MGDP was designed to overcome some of these challenges. And the effort required a collaboration among ten labs -- 8 in maize genetics, 1 in biotechnology and 1 in database creation, with each managing discrete experiments. The MGDP's multifaceted approach set out to:

The Maize Gene Discovery Project is well on its way to providing plenty of data, tools, and seeds for future use. The researchers expect to meet or exceed all of their goals by September, 2003, when the project concludes. Click here for a summary of the project's Accomplishments.

The information gained by MGDP is already serving as a jumping off point for further investigations. Click here to learn more about What's Next.

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

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