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From genome studies to agricultural biotechnology: closing the gap between basic plant science and applied agriculture

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  • Genetics And Genomics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Ecology
  • Medicine


In the broad field of plant biology, access to genome technologies and genome-scale data sets is driving a convergence of subdisciplines that have been historically separate. For example, the next generation of ecologists and crop geneticists are just as likely to be concerned about protein interaction networks that underlie complex phenotypes as they are about the more abstract genetic and evolutionary processes from which such phenotypes derive. Then what will be the difference between an ecologist and a crop geneticist, or a protein biochemist, and a molecular breeder? Genomics is the primary driver of this unification in the biological sciences, though the unification is admittedly still in its infancy. The factors driving this convergence are many, but at a practical level they include first, more comprehensive and better annotated genome data sets; second, a transition from the situation where genome technologies were used to generate data sets accompanied by limited understanding, to a situation where genome technologies are tools for hypothesis-driven research and the resulting data sets are synthesized to yield new understandings; third, rapid decreases in the cost, combined with staggering increases to the scale and accuracy of genome analyses, especially in the areas of nucleic acid (re)-sequencing and genotyping technologies; and fourth, increased computational capacity and new statistical approaches to manage and analyze increasingly large and complex genome data sets.

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