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David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, September 20, 2004

$5.5 million IU project to identify important crop and weed genes

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The National Science Foundation announced today that it would give a $5.5 million, three-year grant (estimated) to Indiana University Bloomington biologist Loren Rieseberg and five colleagues to identify some of the key genes that cause lettuce, sunflower, thistle, knapweed, and several other crops and weeds in the sunflower family to differ from their wild ancestors.

Loren Rieseberg among his sunflowers

Photo by: Chris Meyer

Distinguished Professor of Biology Loren Rieseberg with his favored model organism, the sunflower

Print-Quality Photo

This information will be useful to plant breeders and weed fighters but also to anthropologists who are interested in early humans' domestication of crops.

The scientists also will identify mutations in these key genes that transform wild plants into crops and weeds, and will figure out the order of the genes along the chromosomes.

Lettuce and sunflower are economically important crops, and thistles and knapweeds are among the world's worst weeds. Despite obvious dissimilarities, the two species are closely related and quite similar genetically.

Rieseberg, Distinguished Professor of Biology, is leading the project. His collaborators are Steve Knapp (University of Georgia), Rick Kesseli (University of Massachusetts Boston), David Still (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona), and Richard Michelmore and Kent Bradford (University of California, Davis).

To speak with Rieseberg, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or