Scientists from 10 centers will identify all functional elements in C. elegans and fruit fly genome.

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) awarded grants to 10 U.S. genome centers to create a consortium of scientists who will collaborate in a four-year, $57-million scientific endeavor to understand every part of the C. elegans and fruit fly genome needed for organisms to develop and thrive.

This project, called MOD-ENCODE, aims to identify all the functional elements in the genomes of these model organisms to understand the functional elements and to shed light on the behavior of these elements in humans. The projects have been designed so that similar elements in both organisms are being studied and catalogued in parallel.

The effort will build upon the foundation laid by the ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) consortium, which is preparing to build a comprehensive catalog of all elements in the human genome crucial to biological function.

“We are making great strides in identifying functional elements in the human genome, but we still don’t know much about their biological relevance,” says NHGRI director, Francis S. Collins. “This parallel effort in the fruit fly and worm genomes will provide us with information about the functional landscape of two key model organisms, which should aid our efforts to tackle such questions in humans.”

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