Scientists Complete First Plant Genome Sequence

By Thomas Gryta
December 12, 2000 Dow Jones Newswires

ARLINGTON, Va. – An International research team completed the first plant genome sequence, the National Science Foundation said in a press release Tuesday.

The plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, is a small weed from the mustard family that matures quickly and reproduces abundantly.

The completion by a consortium of scientists called the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative becomes public on the journal Nature's Thursday cover.

The species was chosen as a model for more than 250,000 other plant species partly because it is considered representitive of a wide range of plant life.

Scientists seek to understand the cellular pathways by which plants make certain compounds so that biologists can engineer plants that make more of them.

Scientists also hope to use the data to construct a "virtual plant" on a computer that is genetically accurate and complete. The model would aid in the understanding of the inner workings of plant protein interaction and gene function.

The genome is entirely in the public domain and the research data will be immediately available to scientists across the world.

Companies such as Paradigm Genetics Inc. (PDGM) and Exelixis Inc. (EXEL) have done research work on or using Arabidopsis thaliana.

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