Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT
Sequencing Corn Genome Image 4
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Sequencing Corn Genome (Image 4)

July 26, 2010
To sequence the maize (corn) genome, scientist first collect and purify DNA from maize plants in the laboratory. Purified DNA is "chopped up" to produce DNA small enough to analyze. A sequencing machine determines the actual order of about 1,000 DNA bases (abbreviated G, A, T or C) at a time. By analyzing the sequence data with sophisticated computers programs, the fragments can be aligned by overlapping their ends. Repeated sequences throughout the genome make it difficult to match up the correct pieces. When the project is completed, researchers will know the sequence of all 2.5 billion DNA bases in the maize genome.

A team of university and private laboratory researchers has been awarded a total of $32 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Energy (DOE) to sequence the maize genome.

In modern times, sequencing the maize genome has been considered a daunting task because of its large size and complex genetic arrangements. With two smaller plant genomes now complete--rice and the model laboratory plant Arabidopsis--scientists are now stalking the 2.5 billion bases of maize's genetic code.