The opportunity that stimulated the creation of the Genes for Georgia initiative is the expectation that bio-based industries are likely to be of growing importance to the US economy in the 21st century and beyond, coupled with the realization that acceleration of the product development cycle demands closer ties between basic research and commercialization.

Central to realizing the promise of bio-based industries is development of ‘gene encyclopedias,’ including the ‘spelling’ (sequence) and ‘definition’ (function) of most genes that comprise the genetic blueprint of an organism. These enabling tools that empower researchers to tailor new genotypes to the needs of bio-based industries through better understanding of the role(s) of each gene in the life cycle. Curiously, US public research investments are often only loosely-related to economic opportunity.

By obtaining and employing gene encyclopedias for regionally important crops and pests, we anticipate that some benefits will include improved human health, environmental stewardship, career opportunities, new domestic industries, and scientific pre-eminence.