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Consortium Has Grand Plans for the Weedy Little Arabidopsis

NEW YORK, July 3 - Weedy little Arabidopsis thaliana is already a mighty oak in genomics research, as the first plant to have its genome fully sequenced and the favored model organism of biochemists and physiologists alike.


Now, the international steering committee that organized that sequencing project has announced a more ambitious goal: to complete the functional genomics of the whole Arabidopsis genome within 10 years.


The Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee released a report today that sets out a brisk timeline for progress in understanding the function of every one of the plant's 25,500 predicted genes.


In less than 10 years, the members of this research consortium plan to:


·        Build a complete collection of transgenic lines for overexpression or gene function repression studies;

·        Profile global mRNA expression under a variety of environmental conditions;

·        Understand all post-translational protein modification in the plant; and

·        Identify suitable species for comparative genomic sequencing.


By the end of the decade, the coordinators also expect to:


·        Create  plant artificial chromosomes;

·        Profile every Arabidopsis gene through forward or reverse genetics;

·        Probe the biochemical functions of all the plant's proteins;

·        Create a library of 3D structures of representatives from every protein family; and

·        Complete deep EST sampling and survey genomic sequencing of related species.


The consortium, which includes research organizations from 11 countries, will also promote research into new bioinformatics tools to help visualize cells and whole plants.


The Arabidopsis 2010 project is partly sponsored by the US National Science Foundation, which funded 27 research projects under this program in 2001.

The 31-page prospectus is available at the NSF's web site.