GrainGenes Website Speeds Gene Discovery
By Marcia Wood
May 20, 2008
Even though there's much about wheat
that's familiar and ordinary, one feature of this ancient cropits genetic
makeupremains relatively unknown. In fact, the everyday wheat plant
doesn't just have one genome; it has several. In all, wheat's genetic makeup is
gargantuan and complex. And it isn't yielding easily to scientists' probing.
To help accelerate discovery of this familiar crop's mostly unfamiliar
genes, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Albany, Calif., and
Ithaca, N.Y., developed GrainGenes. This
specialized website provides some of the newest and best research information
for a range of viewers interested in wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale.
For example, it offers content useful not only to those who are
investigating the structure and function of cereal crop genes, but also to
those who carry out traditional crop breeding to develop superior plants for
Located on the Web at http://wheat.pw.usda.gov, GrainGenes
garners enthusiastic repeat visits from researchers worldwide. That's because
the site is comprehensive, user-friendly and packed with interesting, helpful
D. Anderson, research leader of the ARS
and Gene Discovery Research Unit, along with plant geneticist
R. Lazo and bioinformaticist
E. Matthews, manage GrainGenes. Anderson and Lazo are based at the
Regional Research Center in Albany. Matthews works in Ithaca.
This ongoing assignment includes collating, cross-indexing and curating the
more than 2 million pages that make up the site. Every business day, the team
adds "need-to-know" text and graphics, including findings from the
research team's own laboratories.
more about this research in the May/June 2008 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.