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Arabidopsis thaliana - The First Completely Sequenced Plant Genome

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At the end of 2000, an international team of researchers announced that Arabidopsis was the first plant to have its complete genome sequence—the exact order of essentially all 125 million DNA base pairs—determined. The project revealed that Arabidopsis contains over 25,500 genes. By identifying and studying these genes, biologists are learning lessons about plant biology that could provide important advances in agriculture, such as improved crop resistance to pathogens, salt, light stress, and drought, and to the production of more healthful edible oils, pharmaceuticals, and biodegradable plastics.

Arabidopsis research has also produced important discoveries in fundamental plant science, such as the identification of a plant hormone receptor, a clearer understanding of how plants sense and respond to light, and more about the processes that induce plants to form flowers. Arabidopsis research may even have direct relevance to human biology. For example, a photoreceptor protein that regulates circadian rhythms in Arabidopsis was found to share sequence similarity to a retinal photoreceptor, which may perform a similar role in mammals.

Paul J. Muhlrad

Bibliography

Meinke, David W., et al. "Arabidopsis thaliana: A Model Plant for Genome Analysis." Science 283, no. 5389 (1998): 662-681.

Internet Resources

The Arabidopsis Information Resource. <http://www.arabidopsis.org/>.

Nature, Vol. 408, December 2000. (Issue devoted to Arabidopsis thaliana; <http://www.nature.com/genomics/papers/a_thaliana.html>).

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