Oregon State University has been named a partner on a $10 million grant that aims to further the understanding of molecular interactions in corn crops.
Over the next five years, OSU will receive $2.9 million of the grant awarded by the National Science Foundation.
OSU hopes to develop an online database, called a "plant reactome," with information about the molecular and genetic reactions in corn.
The scientists also aim to seek a better way to understand the genes that regulate photosynthesis in the plants as well as yields when the plants are stressed by mineral deficiencies or drought.
The database the OSU will assemble will become a part of a larger database called "Gramene," which is accessible at http://www.gramene.org. The research portal contains the genetic information about various crops such as millet, grapes, trees, sorghum, soybeans and tomatoes.
As part of the $10 million grant, Cold Spring Laboratory in New York and other collaborators will add more genetic information about these crops to the Gramene database. With annotated and curated data online in one place, Gramene's goal is to make it easier for plant breeders and other scientists to conduct research and gather support for their hypotheses.
As a community outreach component of the project, OSU will organize workshops and webinars to teach scientists and students how to u se Gramene.
The research and knowledge sharing of the effort is targeting development of higher yielding crops and better disease resistance. These improvements, says OSU's Pankaj Jaiswal, may ultimately benefit farmers and help feed the world's growing population.
Jaiswal is a plant biologist overseeing Oregon State's part of the project.
Other partners in the grant include Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the European Bioinformatics Institute, and the American Society of Plant Biologists
For more information on the grant, click here or here.