Korea: Government Scientists to Decode Fruit and Vegetable Genomes

SEOUL, Apr. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean agricultural authorities have revealed plans to decode the genomes of popular agricultural products including strawberries and bell peppers.

According to the plans released by the Rural Development Administration (RDA) on Wednesday, the new project will decode the genomes of 23 valuable agricultural products and animals including the Jeju Black Pig by 2021.

The genome initiative first began in 2014 as a joint project between a number of government branches including the RDA and the Ministry of Science and ICT.

As part of the first stage of the project, the genomes of 17 agricultural products including sweet potatoes and chrysanthemums were decoded.

The second part of the project continues this year with a budget of 30 billion won, and officials say over 300 researchers and 25 organizations including the RDA and universities on board.

The targets of the genome decoding project include broccoli, strawberries, bell peppers and Job’s tears, as well as some insects and the Jeju Black Pig.

The project will look into the genomes of living organisms and study the number and types of genes and their structures and functions.

Findings from the project are expected to prove valuable in the development of new vegetable varieties as well as industrial material in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

By decoding genomes, researchers can distinguish superior genes from defective ones, which means particular types of genes can be chosen and used to develop new breeds and varieties.

The RDA says the new initiative is a necessary step as countries that are first to decode the genomes of vegetables can charge others royalties when they wish to develop their own varieties.

The genomic information gathered from the study will be registered in the National Agricultural Biotechnology Information Center’s data system, a gene bank that specializes in the agricultural industry, and be made available to researchers and vegetable seed companies.

-Published in The Korea Bizwire.  See original article link here.