As part of the Plant and Animal Genomic Conference held in San Diego, Calif., Dr. Don Jones of Cotton Incorporated presented the 2012 Cotton Biotechnology Award to five outstanding researchers that were instrumental in mapping the cotton genome.
The diverse and talented team, composed of Dr. Andrew Paterson, Dr. Jonathan Wendel, Mr. Jeremy Schmutz, Dr. Dan Peterson, and Dr. Dan Rokhsar led the collaborative international effort to complete the first 'gold standard' Gossypium genome sequence. The gold standard Gossypium raimondii genome sequence provides the reference blueprint that will revolutionize cotton genetic improvement in the next five to 10 years.
More than a decade ago, the cotton research community began a conversation to determine the appropriate path to sequence the genomes of Gossypium. At the time, the community, via the International Cotton Genome Initiative, held open dialogue and ultimately determined the best route was to first sequence the diploid progenitor ancestors of Upland cotton.
In concert with this community-based recommendation, this group of five from diverse scientific disciplines spearheaded the effort that was published in Nature on December 20, 2012. This landmark paper is the first cotton centric research to be published in this prestigious journal in over 50 years.
Commenting on the effort, Dr. Robert Wright, Professor at Texas Tech University, lauded the leadership exhibited by this group: "Many individuals contributed to the background knowledge that led to this research; however, these five were the core group that contributed most significantly to the project, the interpretation of data, and writing of the Nature manuscript."
Similar accolades came from Dr. Josh Udall, Professor at Brigham Young University. "This gold standard sequence will be a meaningful foundation for all future genetic and biotechnological improvements of cotton and the significance of its publication cannot be overstated. For example, we now have a finite count, position, and genomic context for genes within a cotton plant."
Cotton Incorporated, one of many organizations that provided funding to the research, was also instrumental in facilitating cooperation among researchers from 31 institutions around the world. Dr. Don Jones, Director of Agricultural and Environmental Research at Cotton Incorporated, presented the award to:
• Dr. Andrew Paterson , Regents Professor and Director of the Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory at the University of Georgia.
• Dr. Jonathan Wendel , Distinguished Professor and Department Chair of Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology at Iowa State University.
• Mr. Jeremy Schmutz , faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute.
• Dr. Dan Peterson , Director of the Mississippi State Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology.
• Dr. Daniel Rokhsar, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California - Berkeley.
The Cotton Biotechnology Award, endowed by a gift from Dr. Norma Trolinder in 2000, has been presented to four previous researchers. It is given to a scientist or group of scientists for outstanding biotechnology research in cotton. The Award Committee is comprised of a previous recipient and one representative from each of the following: the USDA, a private seed company, and a university.
The value of cotton fiber grown in the U.S. exceeds $6 billion per year. Cottonseed oil and meal byproducts add another $1 billion annually. More than 200,000 domestic jobs are related to cotton production and processing, with an aggregate influence of $35 billion on the annual U.S. gross domestic product.