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Funding Supports Plant-Gene Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that over the next five years it will fund $85 million in plant-gene research that could ultimately lead to more profitable crops. Through various research projects, the NSF Plant Genome Research Program will try to gain a better understanding of the plant genes of all plants, including economically important crops such as maize, soybean, tomato, and cotton. A genome is the total genetic constitution of a cell or organism. Results from the various research projects are expected to be used by agriculture and other plant-based industries. One program, for instance, investigates the growth and development of tomatoes, as well as their response to infection. Another study, conducted at the University of Missouri at Columbia, aims to enhance a maize (corn) genome database and could include benefits such as improving crop yields, reducing fertilizer requirements, and adding to the quality of food. "The end result is a better quality of life, not only for us, but for the entire planet," says University of Missouri researcher Edward Coe.

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