CAS Kicks off Research Programs

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has kicked off five research programs to further its on-going Knowledge Creation Project.

The programs include rice genome sequencing, life science, biological technology, environmental protection and technologies for engineering projects.

These programs have strategic significance to the national economy, the academy announced at a press conference on Thursday in Beijing.

One of the technologies for the engineering projects, for example, focuses on the interaction between permanent frozen soil and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Project and its environmental impact. Harsh conditions in the area brought about many engineering problems that need to be tackled by in-depth research.

Rice genome sequencing stands out as a new endeavor by Chinese biologists who will decode one of the most important crops in the world following China's successful participation of the Human Genome Project.

Xue Yongbiao, vice-director of the Heredity and Growth Institute under CAS and chief scientist of the genome project, said that the plans, once completed, may lay a solid foundation for future biological research in China, the largest rice producer in the world.

Currently, China has joined the International Rice Genome Sequencing Plan (IRGSP), an international collaboration involving the United States, France, Japan and other countries and is currently conducting research on the whole genome sequencing of rice.

In the plan, China will be undertaking the task of sequencing the No 4 chromosome of Japonica, a sub-species of rice named Nipponbare, which accounts for 8 per cent of the whole sequence.

"We will complete the task of sequencing No 4 chromosome of Nipponbare early next year," Xue said.

Meanwhile, China is independently carrying out its own plan of sequencing of rice genome.

Unlike IRGSP, China chose Indica, a sub-species of rice named Guangluai No 4, as its target of research as the major rice species cultivated in China are Indica and hybrid rice.

(China Daily November 3, 2001)

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