Accompanying the announcement of the new maize genome sequence in the November 20, 2009 issue of Science is a "Perspective" on the sequence. The same Science issue also announces the results of two other NPGI-funded studies that were enabled by the new maize sequence. One of these studies produced a so-called HapMap of the maize genome, which describes the genetic differences between various strains of maize that are currently bred around the world. This resource will help researchers identify the genes that control various maize traits. The HapMap was produced by a team led by Edward S. Buckler of the USDA and Cornell University and Doreen H. Ware of the USDA and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
The other NPGI-funded study that also appears in the November 20, 2009 issue of Science builds on the new maize genome sequence by identifying a surprisingly widespread biological process that determines the level of expression of certain genes present in hybrid strains of maize. This study was produced by a team led by Patrick S. Schnable of Iowa State University.
"Sequencing the corn genome provides scientists with new information and tools to access the vast array of genes available to improve corn," said Kay Simmons of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. "This new sequence information can be exploited to translate basic discoveries to the field for the benefit of corn growers, the corn industry, and consumers."
Rick Wilson, lead investigator and director of the GSC, adds: "The new maize sequence will pave the way for the development of maize breeding programs that will improve the quality and quantity of maize crops, and thereby benefit people living throughout the world."
The November 20, 2009, issue of Science also reports on the sequencing by a Mexican consortium led by Luis Herrera-Estella of CINVESTAV, Irapuato, Mexico of the popcorn variety Palomero toluqueño, which is bred in central Mexico. Comparisons between Palomero toluqueño and the NSF-funded genome sequence, which is from a maize strain that is inbred in mid-western regions of the U.S., reveals important clues about how maize has been domesticated over the last 10,000 years and highlights the importance of biodiversity.
Significance of sequence for research
This new maize sequence provides significant refinements over the draft sequence that was announced in February 2008. These refinements include the elimination of redundancy and improvements in the ordering and orientation of chromosomal segments.