One of the key developments in the Plant Genome Initiative is the design and implementation of a database and network system for genetic data, analysis of data, and linked access to sequences, clones, biosynthetic pathways, and the like, across species boundaries. In addition to its grants through the Competitive Grants Program of Cooperative States Research Service, the Initiative supports database development through the Agricultural Research Service; both are branches of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. A Plant Genome Database is being derived by "Prototype Developers" working first on maize, soybean, wheat, forest trees, and Arabidopsis, soon to be followed up with other species. The structure will be inclusive of higher plant data and is to be focused at the National Agricultural Library (NAL). The Newsletter "Probe", available from Plant Genome Data and Information Center, USDA - National Agricultural Library, 10301 Baltimore Blvd. Room 1402, Beltsville, MD 20705-2351, offers coverage of current issues, descriptions of developing programs, and updates on plant genome activities. Expectation is that full, on-line access to plant genome databases will be available by the latter half of 1993 in their first implementations. The Maize Genome Database is a developing prototype in this network. This is the second report on development and progress of Maizedb; the first report was presented in MNL 66:162-163.

The Working Group (Ed Coe, Mary Berlyn, Stan Letovsky, Mary Polacco, Marty Sachs, Denis Hancock) has been enhanced by the addition during the past year of Pat Byrne and Georgia Davis (Georgia Yerk). Version 1 of the relational database, having served its purpose, is being replaced by Version 2 at the time of this writing. The Gene List and Stock List this year were derived by output from Maizedb, and the contents of Zealand 93 are being incorporated into the database itself.

The Nomenclature and Standards Committee, chaired by Oliver Nelson, has completed revisions for nomenclature and standards, which are reproduced after this section of the Newsletter.

A demonstration of the Maizedb Prototype was given in the Maize Genetics Conference at Asilomar in March, 1992, in the Plant Genome Symposium in San Diego in the fall of 1992, and in the Maize Genetics Conference at Pheasant Run, in March, 1993. Version 2 development was greatly aided by comments and responses from the 1992 and 1993 demonstrations, and on experience with the implementation before and after the demos.

The content of Maizedb can now be accessed via Gopher, as described on the following page. This is a simple and convenient means by which to look up information in the database, but is in an experimental phase and should be expected to change, hopefully for the better, without fanfare. Gopher is itself a developing tool, from which not all performances have an obvious explanation. The Maizedb Group asks not only your patience as refinements are developing, but your corrections, suggestions and ideas as they arise from using the database.

Copies of a guide that was distributed at the 1993 Maize Genetics Conference, "How you can help by reporting information that will facilitate incorporation into the maize database", accompanied by the Nomenclature Standard, are available on request to Ed Coe or any of the other members of the Maizedb working group.

Mary Berlyn (
Denis Hancock (
Pat Byrne (
Stan Letovsky (
Ed Coe (
Marty Sachs (
Georgia Davis (
Mary Polacco (

Please Note: Notes submitted to the Maize Genetics Cooperation Newsletter may be cited only with consent of the authors

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