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Genome sequencing plays a role in helping to understand the complexity of plant species. Yong Gu (L) and Devin Coleman-Derr (R) generate DNA sequences to identify breadmaking-quality genes in wheat.
The genetics of plant species are being investigated for use in bioenergy. Molecular biologist Christian Tobias samples switchgrass plants for later extraction of DNA.
There are many genetic traits that need to be examined for crop improvement. Molecular biologist Debbie Laudencia-Chingcuanco examines wheat for storage protein traits.
The Crop Improvement and Genetics Research Unit conducts research to enhance the productivity and value of crops that provide our nation with food or biofuels. The Unit relates new knowledge gained from genetics, genomics, molecular and computational biology, proteomics, and biotechnology to the field behavior, metabolism and commercial utilization of crop plants, including cereals (wheat, rice), fruits and vegetables (citrus, potato) and switchgrass. Specific goals include identification of genes conferring resistance to pathogens or to unfavorable growth conditions and understanding how those genes influence those traits; determinations of and comparisons among the structures of plant genomes; development and maintenance of publicly available computer databases and Internet resources; discovery of genetic markers for plant breeding; molecular analyses of effects of environment on wheat flour quality and allergenic potential; production of wheat germplasm with enhanced baking quality and/or reduced allergenicity; and deployment of strategies and tools to minimize risk in genetically engineered crops. Interaction with the broader scientific community through provision of molecular tools and bioinformatics resources is integral to the Unit's objectives. The Unit also interacts synergistically with other Federal agencies, universities, and private industry for knowledge and technology transfer.
L Chingcuanco, Debbie