NSF awards large grant for Arabidopsis information resource

$5.3-million award will boost understanding of plant genetics

By the end of next year, scientists will likely know the entire genetic makeup of the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, a mustard that is closely related to many food plants and used as a model for all aspects of plant biology. Availability of so much data about this plant -- the first to be completely sequenced - will be a significant step toward understanding the biology of all plants and improving agriculturally important crops such as corn, soybeans and rice.

To make best use of these data, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a five-year, $5.3 million grant to the Arabidopsis thaliana Information Resource (TAIR) project, a joint venture of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's (D.C.) Department of Plant Biology located at California's Stanford University and the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico (which is receiving a sub-award).

"NSF is committed to delivering a comprehensive information resource to the international Arabidopsis research community," says Paul Gilna, program director in NSF's division of biological infrastructure. "This award will allow for the development of an increased ability to respond quickly to user community needs."

The NSF grant will support a new, publicly accessible database, TAIR, which will contain all the information about the Arabidopsis genome project and experimental data from literature to facilitate the analysis and interpretation of the plant's genetic makeup. There is a direct link between most, if not all, genes of the model plant and those of 250,000 other plant species, including commercially important ones. Arabidopsis, however, is easier to study because it has a highly compact genome, with about a third the amount of DNA as rice, for example. TAIR will allow researchers to compare the DNA sequences of other pla

Contact: Jean Thomas
National Science Foundation

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