Orion Genomics, a Second Code biotechnology company, is donating to public researchers all of its proprietary gene-enriched DNA sequence from the sorghum plant, a close relative of corn and one of the most important cereal crops worldwide. The sequence is expected to help researchers understand and harness sorghum's unusual resilience in sub-optimal environments to improve other crops such as maize, and to contribute to the development of biofuels.

A paper authored by Orion researchers appears online in The Public Library of Science and describes the way in which Orion's GeneThresher(TM) technology was used to quickly and cost effectively elucidate for the first time more than 95 percent of the genes in sorghum. Previously, using traditional technologies, the sorghum sequence was too large to be cost-effectively determined. The sorghum sequence is available at Genbank (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Genbank) of the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

"Orion's public release of more than half a million sequences derived from the gene-rich portion of the sorghum genome represents a significant advance in U.S. cereal genome research," said John Mullet, Ph.D., director of the Crop Biotechnology Center and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M University and a worldwide expert in sorghum research. "Orion's collection of a half million gene rich sequences and the more than 20,000 different gene sequences derived from NSF funded cDNA sequencing projects provide the first in-depth look at sorghum's gene complement. This information will significantly advance comparative analysis of the sorghum, rice and maize genomes and accelerate the discovery of genes that contribute to sorghum's unusual adaptation to hot, dry, adverse environments."

The sorghum sequence was developed using Orion's GeneThresher technologies as part of a project that leveraged a 2001 cost-share grant awarded to enhance sorghum by the Department of Energy. The grant was awarded to an Orion-led consortium of researchers from NC+ Hybrids and Solvigen LLC to develop new enhanced sorghum lines with higher starch more efficient in the production of biofuels and bioproducts.

Source: PR Newswire