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Our understanding of basic biology and our ability to genetically manipulate organisms for their improvement will depend to a large extent on our understanding of developmental, genetic, and metabolic processes which are fundamental to organisms. One of the major challenges in molecular biology is the isolation of genes in which the biochemical function of the gene product is unknown. In a number of species, genes controlling a wide range of fundamental developmental and metabolic processes have been identified by mutational analysis and placed on classical genetic linkage maps. Thus, sequencing of the whole genome become very important. Genome project, or large-scale sequencing, of an organism is a task that takes a lot of manpower, time and money. The genome sequencing information of many different organisms are currently available in database, including human, nematode, fruit fly, Arabidopsis and many microorganisms.

An international rice genome sequencing project, IRGSP, is initiated three years ago, and the primary goal is the complete sequence of rice. The reasons people choose rice as the material as the first crop for genome sequencing project are: (1) rice is an important crop in the world; (2) the genome size of rice is 430 Mb, the smallest one among crops; (3) linkage maps and physical maps of rice have been established and many EST sequences have been registered; (4) the transgenic rice technology has been established; (5) rice shares a co-linear gene organization with other cereal grasses, thus rice is a key to knowledge of the genomic organization of the other grasses.

There are 12 chromosomes in rice. The scientists in Japan and USA prepared PAC and BAC libraries, carried out end-sequencing, EST mapping and fingerprinting. Members of IRGSP would then take these clones and perform large-scale sequencing. We are now working on the sequencing of rice chromosome number 5. A central lab, designate Academia Sinica Plant Genome Center or ASPGC, has been established. This program is supported by National Science Council, Council of Agriculture, Academia Sinica and Institute of Botany.

For genome sequencing, we perform subcloning, sequencing, alignment, analysis and registration for each PAC/BAC clone. The size of chromosome 5 is 35 Mb, and the draft is expected to be finished by the end of 2002. We have registered about 4 Mb sequence data up to now. In the mean time, we also carry out rice functional genomics research, including EST, SAGE, and insertional mutagenesis.

 

       

The rice field in our campus