Corn grower leaders joined the celebration marking the start of the National Science Foundation's process to sequence the maize genome, noted during the 48th Annual Maize Genetics Conference in Monterey, Calif., last week.

Nathan Fields, National Corn Growers Association director of research and business development, and Research and Business Development Action Team member Pam Johnson attended the conference on behalf of NCGA, which has been a leader in funding maize genetics research.

"This is the premier conference for U.S. and international researchers to meet and discuss the state of maize genetics research," said Fields. "Everyone was excited about the National Science Foundation starting its sequencing of the maize genome, which will open a tremendous amount of new data for the scientific community."

NCGA believes the completion of the maize genome will increase breeding efficiency, streamline the delivery of new traits and allow for the discovery an enhancement of desirable properties. Arabidopsis and rice are two other agronomic significant plants to have their genetic makeup sequenced.

"Together, researchers and farmers can advocate for science and for agriculture and we can all make a difference," said Johnson. "It is imperative that our nation invest more dollars in science and research to prepare us with cutting edge technologies so we maintain our ability to stay a leader in a global marketplace. Research in plant, animal, and human genomes have interconnecting value to everyone, not just agriculture. Understanding and utilizing the science of plant genomics can change our world for the better."

NCGA received recognition from the Maize Genetics Executive Committee. The committee noted the whole process of mapping the genome starts with organizations like NCGA that educate Congress on the importance of federal funding of this key initiative.

"The committee made it clear that the maize genome sequencing could not happen without NCGA's efforts," Fields said. "NCGA took a leadership role in securing the funding for the maize genome sequencing effort, and we look forward to continuing our role in being a key partner in ensuring the research dollars produce new tools and products for researchers, producers and consumers."

Fields said conference scientists are looking forward to prioritizing the steps after sequencing is complete in addition to creating a useful tool that allows scientists everywhere to use the sequencing information being produced through the NSF.

SOURCE: National Corn Growers Association.