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MSU genetic scientist wins national award

By Keri Collins Lewis
MSU Ag Communications

Dr. Daniel Peterson, MSU genetic scientist wins national award click to enlarge

MISSISSIPPI STATE – A Mississippi State University genetic researcher recently won a national award for his collaboration with a team of scientists to map a cotton genome.

Daniel Peterson, director of MSU’s Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology and scientist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, received the 2012 Cotton Biotechnology Award from the National Cotton Council of America and Cotton Incorporated.

Peterson, with colleagues Andrew Paterson from the University of Georgia, Jonathan Wendel from Iowa State University, Jeremy Schmutz from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute, and Daniel Rokhsar from the University of California – Berkeley accepted the honor at the Plant and Animal Genome Conference in San Diego. Scientists from 31 international institutions contributed to the project.

The award recognized the team’s pioneering efforts over the past 12 years to map the genetic structure of the ancestors of upland cotton. Their work culminated in developing a “gold standard” genome sequence of Gossypium raimondii. They published their findings in the journal Nature.

“Dr. Peterson’s work on the cotton genome has garnered national and international attention, and he is very deserving of this award,” said George Hopper, MAFES director. “This research will lead to the development of plants more resistant to pests, diseases and the effects of rapid climate change.”

Industry professionals said the sequence will have a positive impact on the cotton fiber industry, which generates about $6 billion annually in the United States.

“This gold standard sequence will be a meaningful foundation for all future genetic and biotechnological improvements of cotton,” said Josh Udall, professor at Brigham Young University, in a Cotton Incorporated press release.

Peterson said the sequence allows researchers to learn about the differences between individual plants and between species and how these differences affect the plants’ structure and function.

“It gives us an entirely different and much more comprehensive approach when we try to make plants that are better adapted to certain environments,” he said. “Essentially it is a quantum leap forward -- now we can do things in cotton that we could not have done before,” he said.

MSU’s Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology, or IGBB, is jointly governed by MAFES, MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the Office of Research and Economic Development, and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. The IGBB is a member of MSU’s High Performance Computing Collaboratory. The cotton research was funded, in part, by MAFES.

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Released: Jan. 24, 2013
Contact: Dr. Daniel Peterson, (662) 325-2747

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