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Rice 'has more genes than humans'
Chinese scientists who have published the genetic code for rice say it seems to have more genes than humans. Initial reports from the study suggest rice has more than 46,000 genes while the human genome has less than 40,000. Experts worked with an American and Canadian team to unravel the grain's code. The breakthrough could lead to new varieties. Chinese scientists are now working on the codes for other staples of the Chinese diet including corn and chicken. Dr Gane Ka-Shu Wong, one of the study's authors, said: "We all like to believe we as humans are better than anything else, and that we have more of everything.
"But if we pride ourselves on the number of genes in our genome, then we lose to a lowly rice plant."
According to a national survey, cereal grains account for 67% of the energy intake in the Chinese diet and the form of rice which has been decoded accounts for 40% of all the rice grown in China. Most of the sequencing was done at China's recently opened gene sequencing centre. The Chinese people are so proud of the work done there, they treat its director like a celebrity. A Canadian scientist who walked with him through the streets of Beijing said local people recognised Huanming Yang and shook his hand.
Story filed: 19:24 Thursday
4th April 2002