The National Corn Growers Association says the effort to map the maize genome is gaining critical momentum, as more than 120 researchers from 35 academic institutions have now accessed, a Web-enabled database that features previously unavailable corn genome sequencing information.

Scientists say the Web site, which features data donated by an industry consortium of Monsanto Company, DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., and Ceres Inc., offers a wealth of formerly inaccessible information that will expedite completion of the corn genome sequence. NCGA launched the database, which is hosted by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, in July 2004.

Completion of the genome will facilitate important new research into crop genetics. Current plant genome research is conducted on rice or Arabidopsis (a member of the mustard family), the only two species with completed sequences.

A broad range of academic institutions from around the world have utilized the database. Land grant universities such as the University of Illinois, Oregon State University, Kansas State University and the University of Minnesota have accessed the site, as well as international institutions such as Oxford University, the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences, the Danish Institute of Agriculture Sciences and the University of Hamburg (Germany).

Genome data are being made available to the general scientific community for use in not-for-profit research, subject to the terms and conditions of a user agreement obtained through NCGA. Potential users must first complete a licensing agreement with NCGA before accessing the information.

Source: Association Release