New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

NYUAD Center Maps The Genome of Dates

April 11, 2013

N


YU Abu Dhabi’s (NYUAD) Center for Genomics and Systems Biology aims to uncover information on the origins and traits of date palms by sequencing the genomes of 100 date varieties. The research team, which is developing a collaboration with UAE University’s Date Palm Research and Development Program, has already completed sequencing the first few genomes and hopes to sequence 30 more by early next year.

The “100 Dates” project was initiated by NYU New York professor of genomics and Dean for Science (FAS) Michael Purugganan in an effort to develop the base of scientific knowledge of a culturally and economically significant crop from the region.



“Dates are of great importance to agriculture in the region, but we know next to nothing about them scientifically,” Purugganan says. “Using genes to better understand this crop has huge potential for local farmers.”



Through developing an extensive database that identifies differing genetic changes across a range of date varieties, project researchers will also work to identify the genes that relate to specific characteristics, such as taste and yield— equipping bioengineers and farmers with important information to support the farming of dates with more desirable qualities.



The project will also aim to identify how to better determine date-producing (female) seeds from pollen donor (male) seeds. Currently, this differentiation can’t be made until six or more years after planting; however, the research team hopes that identifying reliable genetic markers for gender determination will help overcome this challenge and support more effective farming decisions.



The research team is also looking to determine the most likely center of origin of date cultivation through the sequencing of date varieties from across the world.



“We’re sequencing varieties whose original sites of cultivation are spread across the region and beyond, so there are certainly candidate locations, but nobody knows the actual origin location,” says Jonathan Flowers, research scientist at the center. “This origin is usually discovered where the highest genetic diversity is found; when farmers and traders transported these initial seeds across the region, a smaller number of seed varieties were received, therefore there are fewer genotypes represented the further you get from the origin.”



In addition to this project, the center is conducting genetic research on algae and their potential to be developed as a biofuel.


Type: Article

NYUAD Center Maps The Genome of Dates

Search News



NYU In the News

CUSP Unveils its “Urban Observatory”

Crain’s New York Business profiled CUSP’s “Urban Observatory” that is continuously photographing lower Manhattan to gather scientific data.

Post-Sandy Upgrades at the Langone Medical Center

NY1 reported on the major post-Sandy upgrades and renovations made at the Medical Center to protect the hospital from future catastrophic storms.

Steinhardt Research Helps Solve Tough Speech Problems.

The Wall Street Journal reported on research at Steinhardt’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, including an interview with Assistant Professor Tara McAllister Byun, that uses ultrasound to help solve tough speech problems.

Times Column Lauds Professor Stevenson’s New Memoir

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a column about “Just Mercy,” a new memoir by Law Professor Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, whom he noted has been called America’s Nelson Mandela.

Entrepreneurship Lab Opens at NYU

Crain’s New York Business covered the opening of the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurial eLab, which will be the headquarters for NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute and all of the University’s programs aimed at promoting innovation and startups.

NYU Footer