Monday, November 29, 1999

Genome sequence of jute decoded by Bangladeshi scientists

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Anisur Rahman Dhaka, June 17 (PTI) Bangladeshi scientists have successfully decoded the crucial genome sequence of jute, opening up a new vista in the development of the golden fibre, of which India is the world''s largest producer. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the announcement of Bangladesh''s scientific achievement in the parliament yesterday amid cheers and desk thumping by lawmakers. "This is a glorious event for Bangladesh. with this discovery, jute is expected to regain its lost glory of being the golden fibre," Hasina said congratulating the discoverer of the genome sequence, scientist Dr Maksudul Alam and his team members. She also hoped the discovery would help improve the jute fibre quality and invent species which would also be tolerant to the climate change phenomenon. Officials and scientists said Bangladesh was the lone country in Asia after Malaysia to carry out such a high level research led by Alam, a professor of the University of Hawaii. Alam earlier decoded the genome of papaya in the US and rubber plant in Malaysia, led from the forefront in sequencing the jute genome. Experts said this gene sequencing would help improve the fibre length and quality, including colours and strength; and develop high yielding, saline soil-and pest-tolerant jute varieties through genetic engineering. A genome is all of a living thing''s genetic material and it is the entire set of hereditary instructions for building, running, maintaining an organism, and passing life on to the next generation. Genome sequencing is a laboratory process that determines the complete DNA sequence of an organism''s genome at a single time. The process is often compared to "decoding", but a sequence is still very much in code. The Prime Minister said the genome sequence discovery earned Bangladesh the owner of its patent right while it would restore jute''s stake in national economy. Jute is the second largest fibre crop in terms of cultivation next to cotton. Bangladesh is the world''s second-largest producer of jute, after India, and the world''s largest exporter of the fibre.

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