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Plant Breeding, Genetics, & Genomics

Maize Genetics Planning

Leaders in the maize community met for a 2-day retreat on March 20-22, 2007, to discuss the strengths, challenges, and initiatives that define the future of maize research. To guide strategic planning, the community first identified key questions in biology that can be best answered using maize as a model system. These biological questions were considered relative to the overarching goal of understanding the genetic basis of traits in maize. The research directions and the plans to achieve the goals serve as the foundation for basic research and provide the tools for improving food, fuel, and crop yields in a changing environment.

Meeting participants produced a report detailing their recommendations. Short- and long-term research goals include:

Short-Term Planning (expect substantial progress in the next 13 years):

  • Complete current sequencing/annotation and initiate additional map-based sequencing efforts.
  • Increase funding now for centralized databases.
  • Finalize indexed reverse genetic resources to accelerate many areas of research. Index current mutant libraries with new technologies.
  • Select and develop expression platforms and informatic tools.
  • Enhance transformation capacity in the public sector. Resolve continuous support mechanisms for public transformation.

Long-Term Planning (start now, with sustained efforts over the next decade):

  • Enhance, coordinate, and support databases and stock center capacity.
  • Map-based sequences of other inbreds, races, and teosintes will be available.
  • A phenomics initiative will be underway, with large-scale and multi-dimensional phenotyping capabilities for multiple environments available for the entire community.
  • The maize scientific community will be large, diverse, well-trained, and interactive.

NIFA's National Research Initiative Plant Genome program, the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research programs, and the University of Illinois provided support for the planning meeting.


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