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Illumina Announces Recipients of Agricultural Greater Good Initiative Grants

Published: Thursday, January 09, 2014
Last Updated: Thursday, January 09, 2014
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Program grants support projects to improve food security in developing world.

Illumina, Inc. announce two new recipients of its Agricultural Greater Good Initiative Grants. The recipients, Iowa State University and University of California at Riverside, will apply Illumina's array genotyping and software solutions to further their research into sustainable crop and livestock breeding practices. The grants are designed to help identify measures that can increase crop yields and improve livestock welfare and productivity to alleviate poverty and hunger in the developing world. 

Iowa State University will use the grant to better understand the genetics associated with grazing under heat stress in goats and sheep in Egypt. This research, in collaboration with the Animal Production Research Institute of Egypt and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, will enable the identification of genetic signatures in livestock species important to small holder farmers, and improve the selection of animals and breeds most resilient to heat stresses associated with climate change. 

"We are proud to further our research into genes associated with resilience in grazing under heat stress," said Max Rothschild, Distinguished Professor at Iowa State University and Co-Director of the University's Global Food Security Consortium. "Through this grant, we look forward to improving understanding of the genetics of sheep and goats while also offering training and development to Egyptian scientists to ensure our findings can be implemented to improve farming practices in the region." 

University of California at Riverside will use the grant to improve cowpea tolerance to the stresses of Sub-Saharan Africa through the development of genetic knowledge of the cowpea, training on how to use that knowledge in breeding, and applying that knowledge to cowpea breeding programs in West Africa. 

"The support of the Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative will enable genotyping of more samples and enhance our ability to turn knowledge into meaningful results by training African breeders on how to use genomics to boost crop resilience," said Tim Close, Professor and Geneticist at the University of California at Riverside. "This technology ultimately will help local production systems identify and adopt more climate resilient cowpea varieties, and improve nutrition and livelihood for the people who depend on this crop." 

"Illumina is proud to advance food security through the Agricultural Greater Good Initiative Grant Program by providing researchers with the tools and technologies necessary to improve agricultural practices in the developing world," said Kirk Malloy, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Illumina's Life Sciences business. "By unlocking the power of the genome, Illumina is enabling our collaborators to improve human health and well-being on a global scale." 

Illumina's Agricultural Greater Good Initiative grants, launched in 2011 and awarded annually at the Plant and Animal Genome Conference, help to spur critically needed research that will increase the sustainability, productivity, and nutritional density of agriculturally important crop and livestock species. Grant recipients receive donations of Illumina products to support their projects.

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