Iowa State University researchers have won a 900-thousand dollar federal grant to help prevent the spread of diseases carried by seeds. Manjit Misra, director of the Seed Science Center at I-S-U, says they’ll focus on identifying seed pathogens. He says pathogens are very hard to identify, like finding a needle in a haystack. He says their technique will make them more visible and easier to identify, making it easier to prevent the spread of disease. Misra says the research is a defense mechanism, not an attempt to fix something. He says there’s not a problem right now, but they’ve been looking at things in a new light since September 11th. He says if somebody is trying to “play any mischief” they can find it, and it just lets them do a better job of finding the pathogens using the gene sequence. Misra say the U.S. faces the biggest impact from seed disease, as we’re the largest importer and exporter of seeds in the world. He says we export about 800-million dollars worth of seed into the U.S. every year and we also import about 300-million dollars worth of seed every year. The four-year project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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