The Syngenta draft rice genome sequence, developed by the Torrey Mesa Research Institute (TMRI), the genomics research center of Syngenta, was developed using the whole genome shotgun sequencing method. TMRI estimates the sequence covers more than 99 percent of the genome and is 99.8 percent accurate. A description of the draft sequence was published in the April 5, 2002 edition of Science.
"We applaud Syngenta for making this contribution," said Dr. Takuji Sasaki, Director of the NIAS. "Rice is the most important cereal crop for half of the world's population. When the sequence is complete we will be able to pinpoint the crucial genes and expedite transfer of beneficial traits to local varieties of rice. This will result in enormous benefits for people in developing countries."
"Completion of the rice genome sequence is critical for science and for those who depend upon rice for sustenance," said Dr. Steven Briggs, Head of Genomics for Syngenta and President of TMRI. "We are pleased to be able to share our latest discoveries with the global research community."
The IRGSP, established in 1998, has the goal of putting the complete, high quality DNA sequence of the rice genome in the public domain. Through the agreement, Syngenta will transfer the assembled sequence, the underlying sequence files, and chromosome assignment information to two IRGSP members: The National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS) and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). Individual member laboratories, that have signed the transfer agreement, will be able to access this information on a confidential basis. Once the quality of the sequence has met the IRGSP standards, the data will be released to public databases. Further information is available at http://rgp.dna.affrc.go.jp/.
The IRGSP currently has eight active international members (Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, India, France, the US, and Brazil) and the project is led by Dr. Sasaki of the Rice Genome Research Project (RGP;NIAS/STAFF) in Tsukuba, Japan.
The contribution to the IRGSP is one of a series of steps Syngenta is taking to share the results its rice genome research. Syngenta announced in April that researchers could access the draft sequence through the Syngenta website or via CD-Rom. Since the April announcement, over 700 researchers have accessed the data for research purposes. In April, Syngenta called for a global cooperative effort-involving all parties working on rice genome sequencing-to expedite completion of both the japonica and indica rice varieties.
"Even with our progress, finishing the rice genome sequence requires significant effort. A global, public-private cooperative initiative will ensure swift accomplishment of this objective. Today's agreement is an important step toward this broad global partnership," said Dr. Briggs.
Rice is the most important cereal crop for half of the world's population. Increasing population pressure, coupled with losses in arable land, water, energy-dependent fertilizer, and other resources for sustaining agriculture, make it especially important to maximize rice productivity. Using a finished rice genome map, plant breeders will be able to identify traits for yield, disease resistance, and tolerance to environmental stress. DNA sequence of rice that is tied to the genetic map facilitates the identification of genes governing those traits. Pinpointing the crucial genes will expedite transfer of beneficial traits into locally adapted elite lines and will permit plant breeders to search for useful allelic variants that can help produce new crops to solve age-old problems in rice production.
Syngenta is a world-leading agribusiness. The company ranks first in crop protection, and third in the high-value commercial seeds market. Sales in 2001 were approximately US $6.3billion. Syngenta employs more than 20,000 people in over 50 countries. The company is committed to sustainable agriculture through innovative research and technology. Syngenta is listed on the Swiss stock exchange and in London, NewYork and Stockholm. Further information is available at www.Syngenta.com.