Press Release

TIGR Awarded $7.2M for Rice Genome Sequencing

October 14, 1999

Rockville, MD, October 14, 1999 —­ The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR; http://www.tigr.org) was awarded $7.2 million by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, and the U. S. Department of Energy triagency initiative focused on rice genome sequencing. TIGR is one of several laboratories participating at the international level in the International Rice Genome Sequencing Project, headed by Dr. T. Sasaki of the Rice Genome Program in Japan. These funds will allow TIGR to sequence approximately 30 Mb of the rice genome by September of 2002. TIGR will first complete the sequence of chromosome 10 of rice in collaboration with Clemson University/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory/Washington University (CCW), who were also funded by the USDA/NSF/DOE initiative. TIGR anticipates completion of chromosome 10 by Spring of 2001 prior to initiating sequencing of other large regions of the rice genome.

TIGR has been the leader in gene discovery through Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) sequencing, whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics. TIGR has sequenced the genomes of 9 microorganisms which are highlighted by the first three microbial genomes in history being completed at TIGR. Presently, another 19 microbial genomes are being sequenced at TIGR. In addition to its extensive prokaryotic genome sequencing work, TIGR has sequenced two complete eukaryotic chromosomes: chromosome 2 of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, and chromosome 2 of the model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana. The sequencing and annotation of chromosome 2 of Arabidopsis by TIGR was notable for both the scale and completeness of the final result. The 19.6 Mb of sequence from chromosome 2 of Arabidopsis is composed of two contigs that represent the short and long arm of the chromosomes and is interrupted only by the centromeric repeat sequence. The long arm of chromosome 2 (16 Mb) represents the longest continuous sequence of DNA generated to date. Coupled with the annotation of over 4,000 genes and other features on chromosome 2, this sequence represents a substantial contribution to further understanding basic plant biology.

Whereas Arabidopsis is a laboratory model for basic plant biology, it is not a species of direct agronomic importance. In contrast, rice is considered a model species for monocotyledonous plants, such as maize, wheat, sorghum, oats, and barley. It has a relatively small genome (est. 430 Mb), is a diploid (2n=24), is readily transformable and has tractable genetics that include diverse germplasm. These attributes, in addition to its role as a major food source for a majority of the world's population, have resulted in the development of genetic and molecular resources focused on obtaining the complete genome sequence of rice. Not only will the complete sequence of rice provide a reservoir of genes by which to understand rice growth and development, but it will also provide a set of molecular tools to leverage sequence information to highly syntenic species such as maize, wheat and barley that are more recalcitrant to genomic approaches.

TIGR has been a leader in the field of genomics, both in sequencing and in bioinformatics. TIGR, founded in 1992, is a not-for-profit research institution that funds its research through government and private grants. In its brief history, TIGR has made important contributions to human, microbial, animal and plant genomics.