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 Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 11:13 GMT
Speaking of plants
Japan AP
Japanese researchers Satoshi Tabata and Michio Oishi (centre and right) salute the completed sequence
Scientists have deciphered for the first time the entire genetic make-up of a plant, a small weed called Arabidopsis thaliana. Researchers say the event is a landmark in biology. It will impact on all the things we get from plants: foods, clothes, fuel, and a whole variety of specialised products like dyes, perfumes and pharmaceutical products. This is what science had to say about the completed genome sequence:

"Genome sequences change the way we do biology and from this point onwards, plant science will never be the same again because we have the full set of genes that make this small organism."
Professor Mike Bevan, from the John Innes Centre, UK, and European co-ordinator on the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative

"Arabidopsis is now the reference plant for all others. It has all the genes that more complicated plants have for roots, seeds, flowers and fighting diseases. Now, we know what it essentially takes to make a flower."
Jeff Dangl, who studies plant diseases at the University of North Carolina, US

"The completion of the Arabidopsis genome sequence has profound implications for human health as well as plant biology and agriculture."
Robert Martienssen, a researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, US, who helped organise the sequencing effort

The journal Nature carries the papers related to the genome announcement
"It seems somewhat ironic that a lowly weed has become one of the most important plants on our planet."
Claire Fraser of the Institute for Genomic Research, US, which assisted the sequencing work

"I've been working on this little weed for over a decade. It used to take 10 man-years to find one gene. Now, one person, with this new data, can do the same thing in 18 months with a little bit of luck."
Dr Ottoline Leyser, University of York, UK, and co-ordinator of the Genomic Arabidopsis Resource Network

"All nations and peoples will benefit from the Arabidopsis sequence. These findings are freely accessible to researchers worldwide for the benefit of improving the nutrition, the general health and the sustainability of the population and the environment."
Dr Rita Colwell, US National Science Foundation director

"It's amazing that humans and plants share a number of genes. It provides further evidence that we do have a common origin. Having the whole genome of this plant opens so many questions about evolution. How related are we?"
Rod Wing, who is sequencing the rice genome at Clemson University, US

Japan AP
The most important plant on the planet?
"This landmark achievement means that every lab around the world working with Arabidopsis, as well as any other flowering plant, will be doing their science faster, easier and in a more thorough way."
Daphne Preuss, assistant professor of genetics and cell biology at the University of Chicago, US

"It'll grow in your garden - you should be able to find it nearby - even in a big city. You can actually grow it in very little soil - just a thimble full. But it has to be said, it's not a very good weed. It's not persistent like dandelion which is difficult to remove."
Dr Sean May, head of the Arabidopsis Stock Centre at Nottingham University, UK

"Selection of traits that improve our diet and make harvesting easier have changed the pea-sized wild tomato into the modern giant, and the bone-hard teosinte seeds into the large, soft modern maize. Studies of Arabidopsis will help to determine the genetic basis for these changes."
Virginia Walbot, of the Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University, US

"Even though both plants and animals have dealt with the issues of multi-cellular existence for over 1.5 billion years, they've dealt with that in parallel tracks. This means that comparisons between plants and animals are going to tell us a huge amount about the constraints on biology and a huge amount about evolution. This is what I find particularly exciting about Arabidopsis thaliana."
Dr Richard Gallagher, chief biological sciences editor at the journal Nature

  How the code was cracked
Its simple genome made the plant a good choice for sequencing
  Prof Mike Bevan, European co-ordinator
Our work is as important as the human genome research

Arabidopsis details

Arabidopsis in action
See also:

26 Jun 00 | Science/Nature
23 Mar 00 | Science/Nature
10 Dec 98 | Science/Nature
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