Major accomplishments have been made in all areas of the original NPGI research objectives. Particularly
notable examples are described below:
Completion of the Arabidopsis genome sequence four years ahead of schedule. This is the most
complete eukaryotic genome sequence finished to date and it has formed the basis for worldwide
efforts to identify the function of all of the genes in Arabidopsis
by the year 2010.
Completion of a deep draft rice genome sequence six years ahead of schedule. The sequence
is being used by the research community to study the genomes of other cereals, including maize,
wheat, barley and sorghum.
New fundamental science discoveries including: (1) the structure and organization of centromeres in
higher plants, which may lead to new vectors for genetic manipulation of large segments of plant
genomes; (2) identification of most of the genes involved in the response of plants to environmental
stresses; (3) the discovery of the first active transposon in rice and the first active miniature inverted-repeat
ransposable elements (MITEs) in eukaryotic organisms; (4) new insights into the mechanism of
epigenetic gene silencing, which will impact methods for genetic engineering of plants; and (5) new
findings about plant pathways and genes involved in detecting and resisting pathogens.
Production of plant genome research resources including: (1) a large collection of plant ESTs (Expressed Sequence Tags) in GenBank, which number over 2,000,000 in 2002 compared to 50,000 in
1998, providing a valuable resource used widely by individual investigators to study gene structure
and function; (2) Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) libraries for over 72 plant species available to
the public, which are being used to identify and clone genes of interest; (3) a large, public collection of
transposon-tagged lines for reverse genetics approaches to studying gene function in maize and
Arabidopsis; (4) deep physical maps of maize, soybean, wheat and other plant species; and (5) various
public plant genomic databases available for community use.
Development of plant genome research tools such as: (1) gene expression profiling tools, including a
whole-genome array for Arabidopsis; (2) informatics tools to access, analyze and synthesize all levels of
plant genome data; (3) new optical mapping methods; (4) development of a publicly available efficient
maize transformation system; (5) collection of public vectors for gene silencing, which are being used
to study gene function in tomato, potato, and tobacco; and (6) a novel technology called “TILLING” for
rapid selection of point mutations in any gene, which is being widely used by researchers in the US
and Europe studying a range of plant species.
International collaborations have been established to pursue coordinated
international efforts to advance genomics of various plant species, including: (1) the Multinational Coordinated Arabidopsis thaliana Functional Genomics Project; (2) the
Rice Genome Sequencing Project; (3) the Cereal Genome Initiative; (4) the International Genome Research Organization for Wheat; (5)
Tomato Genome Sequencing Community; (6) the Medicago truncatula Genome Group; (7) the Poplar Functional Genomics Consortium; and (8)
the Global Musa Genomic Consortium.