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Maize is one of the world’s highest value crops, with a multibillion dollar annual contribution to agriculture. The great adaptability and high yields available for maize as a food, feed and forage crop have led to its current production on over 140 million hectares worldwide, with acreage continuing to grow at the expense of other crops. In terms of tons of cereal grain produced worldwide, maize has been number one for many years. Moreover, maize is expanding its contribution to non-food uses, including as a major source of ethanol as a fuel additive or fuel alternative in the US. In addition, maize has been at the center of the transgenic plant controversy, serving as the first food crop with released transgenic varieties. By 2008, maize will have its genome sequence released, providing the sequence of the first average-size plant genome (the four plant genomes that are now sequenced come from unusually tiny genomes) and of the most complex genome sequenced from any organism.
Among plant science researchers, maize has the second largest and most productive research community, trailing only the Arabidopsis community in scale and significance. At the applied research and commercial improvement levels, maize has no peers in agriculture, and consists of thousands of contributors worthwhile. A comprehensive book on the biology of maize has not been published.
The "Handbook of Maize: the Genetics and Genomics" center on the past, present and future of maize as a model for plant science research and crop improvement. The books include brief, focused chapters from the foremost maize experts and feature a succinct collection of informative images representing the maize germplasm collection.
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Handbook of Maize
Edited by Jeff Bennetzen and Sarah Hake
Maize is one of the world’s highest value crops, with a multibillion dollar annual contribution to agriculture. The great adaptability and high yield of maize as a food, feed and forage crop have led to its production on a massive scale, with acreage expanding at the expense of other crops. Maize has developed in its non-food usage, comprising a major source of ethanol for fuel in the United States. In addition, maize has occupied center stage in the transgenic plant controversy, serving as one of the first food crops with commercialized transgenic varieties. The release of the genome sequence of maize in 2008 will indicate the structure and gene content of the first average-size plant genome and will be the most complex genome sequenced from any organism to date.
Beyond its major agricultural and economic contributions, maize has been a model species for genetics since it was the first plant to have a genetic map, initially published by Emerson and colleagues in 1935. Such central genetic phenomena as transposable elements, nucleolar organizers, telomeres and epigenetic gene regulation were discovered first in maize, and later found to be universal eukaryotic genome properties. These key genetic contributions continue, including taking the lead in the characterization of the evolution of the highly unstable genomes so common in flowering plants.
Among plant science researchers, maize has the second largest research community, trailing only the Arabidopsis community. Despite the size and scope of this community, a comprehensive book on the biology of maize – targeting genetics, genomics or overall biology - has not been published. Hence, a modern and comprehensive volume on the status (and future) of maize as a species for biological study is highly warranted.
Handbook of Maize: Genetics and Genomics centers on the past, present and future of maize as a model for plant genetics and crop improvement. The book includes chapters from the foremost maize experts on the role of maize in the origin of plant genetics, in modern crop improvement and in the study of genome structure, function and evolution.
Jeff Bennetzen, Ph.D. is the Norman and Doris Giles Professor of Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics at the University of Georgia, and is also a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. He has studied the structure and evolution of the maize genome for the last 28 years.
Sarah Hake, Ph.D. is the Director of the Plant Gene Expression Center of the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service and University of California, Berkeley. She is also an adjunct Professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at U. C. Berkeley. She has worked on maize throughout her scientific career.Review:
From the reviews:
“The book subsumes the current collective knowledge in the research fields of maize genetics and genomics ... . The book is of high quality regarding both text and figures. ... The book is delightful to read, mainly due to the clear structure with plenty of scientific detail. The careful selection of literature references for each chapter makes the volume very effective and a must-read for specialists and novices in addition to maize researchers and breeders as well.” (Ralf G. Kynast, Annals of Botany, Vol. 109 (7), June, 2012)
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