Rice genome decoded

In any case, preliminary and complementary

As has become the custom with genome discoveries, the rough press releases (and the articles in Science) are given before the real work (clumping the genes together) is done. What is available at the moment are very preliminary results that need to be verified and completed.

Two different research companies have taken care of rice genome decoding and published their results in Science. The first group took on the Indica subspecies; this project was sponsored by the Beijing Genome Institute, the Washington University Genome Center, and 11 other Chinese institutions. Indica is also in China the most widespread type of rice. Behind the second team was the Swiss organic company Syngenta. This team took care of the Japonica variety, which is particularly widespread in Japan.

All in all, the rice decoding process produced quite interesting results. After all, rice is the staple food for more than a third of the world’s population and also has the most manageable genome of all cereals. However, it turns out that this does not make it any less complex. With an amed 55.000 genes, the rice genome probably has even more genes than the human genome. With a little tweaking, we might be able to solve the food problems of many countries around the world.

What could encourage this tweaking is the fact that the Syngenta researchers checked their Japonica genome to see if they found any genes already known from the human genome. This was not the case – apparently no genes migrate through food into the human genome. This thesis was never really convincing, but it could not have been invalidated by the Syngenta results.

Because, unfortunately (which is a shame for science), one has to "cui bono?" ask. Syngenta is of course not doing research for its own sake, but as a "Business model" and will be rather reluctant to deprive itself of its livelihood. In this respect, a rearance on the question of gene transfer could not occur until such findings a) from disinterested parties b) on a much broader basis (other plants are…), and c) with a secure starting point (and not with a preliminary, possibly even a final one). to complementary sequencing) will be obtained.

There is a lot to complain about at Syngenta. Just like Celera with the human genome, Syngenta treats the Japonica genome as its intellectual property. The data are not made freely available to science, but can only be requested against a license (difficulties with a scientific publication).

But it seems that this time the knight in shining armor is not waiting for us. Because there is a third project working on decoding the rice genome: RGP, the Rice Genome Project, which is backed by 10 major countries (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Thailand, India, USA, Great Britain, France, Brazil).

And there are two things that are very positive about RGP: not only that this project immediately puts all the knowledge gained on the website, but also that they work much more carefully. The exact differences in approach are explained by RGP in a statement. When RGP has completed his work, the data will not only be freely available, but also reliable.