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Castor bean genome may help prevent potential bioterrorism events

February 14, 2016

Identifying and understanding the ricin??producing gene family in castor bean will be important in preventing and dealing with potential bioterrorism events. Genomics enables enhanced diagnostic and forensic methods for the detection of ricin and precise identification of strains and geographical origins. The team discovered that the ricin gene family was larger than previously thought, and they revealed approximately 28 genes in the ricin producing family.  As a next step, the group suggest further comparative genomic studies with the close relative cassava, a major crop in the developing world, to further elucidate their disease resistance aspects.

Dr. Chan stated, "The availability of the castor bean genome will encourage more research into the positive aspects of this oilseed crop as a potential biofuel. Further study will also elucidate many aspects about ricin and enable researchers to potentially eliminate the bioterrorism threat of this natural toxin."  

SOURCE J. Craig Venter Institute