Public Release: 

New collaboration on rice DNA variation study

The findings could contribute to more effective breeding programs, accelerating the development of hardier and more productive strains of rice.

International Rice Research Institute

Perlegen Sciences, Inc., and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) announced today that they will collaborate to identify DNA variation in fifteen rice strains. By identifying sequence variation between major rice varieties, the study will help uncover the genetic basis underlying important agricultural traits.

Rice is the world's number one food crop, providing the principal source of calories for nearly half the world's population. It is also a staple in the diet of some of the world's poorest but fastest growing nations. Booming population growth in areas with limited availability of arable land has created an urgent need for agricultural solutions that will help prevent hunger and malnutrition crises. The findings from this study could contribute to more effective breeding programs, accelerating the development of hardier and more productive strains of rice.

"We are committed to contribute to a greater molecular understanding of rice's genetic variation as a foundation for future rice improvement." said Dr. Robert Zeigler, Director General of the International Rice Research Institute." This study will allow us to associate variation in DNA with important traits such as drought resistance or vitamin and mineral content, ultimately helping us to breed rice strains that can be cultivated under more extreme environmental conditions or provide greater nutritional value."

"Rice is an important crop for world agriculture and an excellent candidate for a DNA variation study", said Dr. Kelly Frazer, Vice President, Genomics at Perlegen. "Combining Perlegen's high-throughput technology and experience in SNP detection with the International Rice Research Institute's pioneering studies in rice biodiversity gives us an opportunity to improve the quality of one of the most critical human food sources worldwide."

The collaborators plan to identify genetic variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, from across the whole-genome of the fifteen strains being studied using Perlegen's high throughput oligonucleotide array approach enabled by Affymetrix GeneChip® technology. While Perlegen's primary focus is on using this technology to personalize medicines, it also applies this approach to other types of genetic studies that could benefit humanity, including important genetic studies of plants and other species critical to human health. The application of this technology for SNP detection is made possible by the available "standards" of rice genome sequence contributed by the International Rice Genome Sequencing Project (IRGSP) and the Beijing Genomics Institute. All results from the study will be made public.

Terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

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About Perlegen Sciences

Perlegen Sciences, Inc. is working to provide safe and effective medicines to the world. The company quickly and cost effectively analyzes millions of genetic variations in DNA samples obtained from clinical trial participants. This information is used to explain and predict the efficacy and adverse effect profiles of prescription drugs. Perlegen also applies this expertise to discovering genetic variants associated with disease for potential new therapeutics and diagnostics. For years, scientists and drug manufacturers have been eager to comprehensively examine entire genomes; through Perlegen, this is now possible. Perlegen is able to bring drugs to the market that might otherwise have been discontinued in clinical development.

Based in Mountain View, California, Perlegen was formed in late 2000 as a spin-off from Affymetrix, Inc. (Nasdaq: AFFX). For more information about the company and its technologies, visit Perlegen's website at www.perlegen.com. Perlegen Sciences, Perlegen, and the Perlegen logo are trademarks of Perlegen Sciences, Inc.

About International Rice Research Institute

IRRI is a nonprofit agricultural research and training center established to improve the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes. It is dedicated to helping farmers in developing countries produce more food on limited land, using less water, less labor, and few chemical inputs, without harming the environment. IRRI has helped to develop around 1,000 modern varieties of rice, thereby increasing rice availability and reducing rice prices.

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