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Last year was a good one for rice genomics. Draft genome sequences of the two agriculturally important sub-species of rice — indica and japonica — were published in April. And in November, high quality sequences of two of japonica's chromosomes were unveiled.

In the wake of these achievements, expectations are high. But, as David Cyranoski reports, not much is known about the real potential benefits of the rice genome. And while the sequencing was conducted as an open, team effort, economic considerations may mean that rice functional genomics will become a rather less collaborative venture.

In particular, the goals of further research are likely to diverge with rich countries being interested in improving traits like taste and texture, and others wanting to produce higher-yielding or nutritionally superior varieties for the developing world. These different scientific cultures and approaches present a formidable obstacle.

Link to full Nature feature article

Reference: Nature 422, 796 (2003)

Photo credit: International Rice Research Institute

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