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Qatar Researchers Establish Draft Genome Sequence for Date Palm Tree

Using next-generation sequencing technology, researchers at the Weill-Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) have determined a draft genome sequence for the date palm tree. Date palm trees play a significant role in agriculture throughout the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Pakistan. The fruit is a major source of nutrition in those areas, and the tree itself plays an important role in the development of sustainable agriculture in many drought- and saline-affected regions of the world. References in the Qur'an have kept alive the use of dates for medicinal purposes over the centuries. Genetic information about the date palm is expected to be extremely valuable to researchers who are working to improve fruit yield and quality and to better understand susceptibility and resistance to disease. The date palm sequencing work was a proof-of-concept study, according to Joel Malik, director of the Genomics Laboratory at the WCMC-Q, who established the genomics laboratory last year. The goal was to establish and validate the capabilities of the core lab for large-scale genomics projects. The lab is an integral part of a large biomedical research program launched last year by the WCMC-Q, with support from the Qatar Foundation, that aims to make Qatar a hub for research in the Middle East. [Press release]