The Maize Gene Discovery Project (MGDP) is a 5-year NSF-funded plant genome initiative that began in 1998. The MGDP collaboration involves researchers at six universities from diverse disciplines with the common goal of discovering new maize genes and developing tools for the phenotypic characterization of maize mutants. The project utilizes several approaches: EST sequencing, cDNA microarray production, and the discovery of gene function and genomic sequence through the use of a recombinant Mu1 transposon ( RescueMu). Current achievements of the MGDP (NSF 98-72657) include the sequencing of over 120,000 maize ESTs from diverse cDNA libraries, and over 70,000 RescueMu flanking sequences, as well as the cataloguing of mutant seed and cob phenotypes of 23,000 maize ears, 6,200 families of maize seedlings, and 4,000 families of adult maize plants carrying MuDR/Mu and RescueMu insertion alleles. A consolidation of over 24,000 unique sequences from 19 libraries has been made into the first two of the planned set of four "Unigene" microarray slides. In addition, slides for four EST libraries have been produced. These microarray slides, EST clones, library plates of immortalized RescueMu bacterial cultures, and seed are all available online (http://www.zmdb.iastate.edu). The ZmDB website posts periodic assemblies of all maize EST and genomic sequences available from GenBank. ZmDB is also a portal for sequence analysis software designed to aid in gene discovery: MuSeqBox, GeneSeqer, and SplicePredictor. In addition, ZmDB contains links to other plant and genetics websites.
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