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Companies help researchers find corn's genetic code

Companies help researchers find corn's genetic code
00:00 am 3/19/05
Jim Suhr AP business writer

ST. LOUIS - A trade group overseeing an effort to unlock corn's genetic code says more than 120 researchers have already used a Web database created to speed up development of biotech crops.

The National Corn Growers Association said this week that the researchers, representing 35 academic institutions, accessed maize gene sequences cataloged in the database.

"There are only little pieces of gene sequences available in the public domain," said Jo Messing, a professor of molecular biology at Rutgers University, who has used the database. "The private collection offers a lot of those missing pieces."

The 8-month-old Web site pools research done on the corn genome by Monsanto Co., DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi- Bred International and Monsanto research partner Ceres.

By offering their data to researchers at nonprofit institutions for noncommercial use, the companies hope to develop hybrid and genetically modified plants that are more drought-resistant or can produce more nutritious corn or fibers.

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