The National Science Foundation has awarded a $9.9 million grant to a University of Arizona-led team that will study the wild relatives of cultivated rice. As a news release from UA explains:
Part of RICE 2020, an international coordinated effort in rice functional genomics, the NSF funds the undertaking of functionally characterizing the genomes of all 24 rice species, with the goal of transforming not only crop biology but evolutionary biology as well.
Along with the studies that will be conducted by resarchers including BIO5 members Rod Wing, director of the Arizona Genomics Institute, and Michael Sanderson, professor in UA’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, the project includes a strong STEM-education outreach component:
The project will provide training and mentoring to postdoctoral scientists, graduate and undergraduate students and high school students with an interest in genome evolution, plant breeding and careers in academic and corporate science.
As an outreach component, the project will include a biannual Plant Science Family Night program at Ventana Vista Elementary School in Tucson, targeting K-5 students and families, with the goal of getting children and their families in the greater Tucson area excited about plants and the role plant science plays in ensuring a safe, sustainable and secure food supply for our planet.