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Scientists Crack Bamboo Genome in Search of Wood Alternative

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 11:38am
Chinese Academy of Sciences

Image: Chinese Academy of SciencesChinese scientists announced that they have decoded the genome for moso bamboo in hopes of improving the breed and using the plant as an alternative to wood.

The results have been published in the online version of Nature Genetics, a science magazine, according to Jiang Zehui, leader of the research team responsible for decoding the genome.

The team started working on the genome in 2007 and has since figured out how the plant grows from a genetic standpoint.

China is the world's biggest grower and user of bamboo. China has 3.86 million hectares of moso bamboo, accounting for 72 percent of the country's bamboo-planting area.

Moso bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Its shoots can grow 100 cm in a period of just 24 hours if conditions are favorable.

Bamboo can be used to make paper, as well as to build rudimentary structures. Moso bamboo is the most commonly used type of bamboo in China's bamboo textile industry.

Han Bin, a senior genetics researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says the decoded genome will allow scientists to modify the species and find new uses for it.

The decoded genome will also help alleviate food shortages for giant pandas, Han says.

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