Progress, and Applications
of the Human Genome Project
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Human Genome News Archive Edition
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Plant Genome Significant to Agriculture, Energy, Human Health
For the first time, scientists have sequenced the complete genetic material of a plant, that of the mustard weed Arabidopsis thaliana. The international Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (AGI) consortium published the results and early analyses in the December 14, 2000, issue of Nature, and articles are freely available on the Web through Nature's Genome Gateway.
Scientists expect that systematic studies will illuminate numerous features of plant biology, including those of significant value to agriculture, energy, environment, and human health.
AGI, a collaboration of research groups in the United States, Europe, and Japan, is funded by government agencies on three continents. U.S. research was supported in large part by DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Related to broccoli and cauliflower, Arabidopsis has emerged as a powerful tool in plant molecular biology because of its rapid life cycle, small physical size, and relatively small genome (125 Mb). The genome is organized into 5 chromosomes containing some 26,000 genes. Genes are compact and closely spaced (about 4.6 kb apart), suggesting short regulatory regions compared with animal genomes.
The complete sequence of Arabidopsis is directly relevant to human biological functions as well, because many fundamental life processes at the molecular and cellular levels are common to all higher organisms. Some of those processes are easier to study in Arabidopsis than in human or animal models. Arabidopsis contains numerous genes similar to those that prompt human diseases ranging from cancer and premature aging to ailments such as Wilson's disease, in which the human body's inability to excrete copper can be fatal.
Gene Function Project
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Last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2003
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