Dr. Tianzhen Zhang of Nanjing Agricultural University and Dr. Z. Jeff Chen of the University of Texas were selected as recipients of the 2016 Cotton Biotechnology Award for their outstanding research in developing a draft upland cotton genome sequence published in Nature Biotechnology. The award announcement is made by Dr. Don Jones of Cotton Incorporated.
Commenting on the research efforts of Drs. Zhang and Chen, Dr. David Stelly of Texas A&M University lauded their accomplishment: "It is remarkable because of the complexity of the cotton genome, which is not only tetraploid, but riddled with extensive sequence redundancies from repetitive elements and residual duplications from multiple levels of paleopolyploidy. Each was jointly instrumental in leading this cotton genome sequence assembly project which involved 54 individuals at 11 institutions on 3 continents. It is a testament to their skill as global leaders in the development of genomic resources for cotton".
Similar accolades came from Dr. Josh Udall, Associate Professor at Brigham Young University and recipient of the award last year. "Dr. Chen translates basic knowledge garnered in model organisms to the cotton system and was the first to investigate small RNAs in cotton and attribute their basic biological roles to important functions of cotton fiber. Dr. Zhang has authored numerous publications using DNA sequencing to investigate the genome of cotton. Because of his close ties to cotton breeders, he is a pioneer in functional genomics. Several of his recent efforts have cloned and sequenced genes contributing to the cotton phenotype".
The Cotton Biotechnology Award, endowed by a gift from Dr. Norma Trolinder in 2000, has been presented on five previous occasions. Recipients receive a monetary award and a plaque recognizing their selection. It is presented to a scientist or group of scientists for outstanding biotechnology research in cotton and is administered by the Agricultural Research Department at Cotton Incorporated.
Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.