ARS Produces Online Databases for Maize,
Blueberries By Rosalie Marion Bliss
August 7, 2008
Service (ARS) scientists and colleagues have produced several online
bioinformatics resources to support plant breeders and other scientists who
research genetic traits among plant species. Bioinformatics is a field of
science in which biology, computer science and information technology merge to
form a single discipline.
Holland and university colleagues produced Panzea, an online bioinformatics resource on
maize diversity with support from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Science Foundation. Buckler and Ware
are with ARS units in Ithaca, N.Y; McMullen in Columbia, Mo.; and Holland in
Raleigh, N.C. Panzea contains millions of data points, providing access to
genotype, phenotype and polymorphism data.
Maize is a diverse crop species. On average, two different maize lines
can be as genetically different as a human and a chimpanzee. A key aspect of
the program is identifying chromosomal regions at which exotic maize lines
possess genes with agronomic effects superior to those carried in Corn Belt
Panzea is available at: http://www.panzea.org.
Another genomics database supports blueberry breeders who are
generating plants that can adapt to a wide range of soils, climates and
harvests. Blueberry is now a major berry crop and sales are rising quickly,
according to industry experts.
ARS plant geneticist
Rowland and colleagues produced the online blueberry genomics database,
which is called the BBGD.
The researchers are with the ARS
Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. They
have identified gene sequences and molecular markers of horticultural
significance in blueberry. That information is available through the BBGD for
marker-assisted breeding and transformation.
The database provides key information on gene expression related to a
cultivar's ability to acclimate and survive during cold winters--a critical
step to good summer yields. The BBGD is available at:
about this research in the August 2008 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is a scientific research agency of the USDA.