National Plant Genome Initiative 2003-2008
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Executive Summary
Major Accomplishments
Plan for 2003-2008
Cost Estimates for Achieving Objectives

















The Interagency Working Group (IWG) for Plant Genomes was appointed in May 1997 by the Executive Office of the President in response to a request from the Senate VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. The IWG consists of representatives from the Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The IWG was charged with identifying science-based priorities for a national plant genome initiative and to plan and coordinate plant genome research activities for the Nation.

In January 1998, the IWG published the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) five-year plan ( The plan recommended increased Federal investment focused on the following plant genome research objectives:

  • Completing the sequencing of the model plant species, Arabidopsis;

  • Participating in an international effort to sequence rice;

  • Developing the biological tools to study complex plant genomes such as corn, wheat, soybean, and cotton;

  • Increasing our knowledge of gene structure and function of important plant processes;

  • Developing the appropriate data handling and analysis capabilities; and

  • Ensuring this new information will be accessible to the broader community of plant biologists and maximizing the training opportunities that will arise from the Initiative.

In the original report, the IWG established the following guiding principles for implementing the NPGI five-year plan:

  • The Initiative should be viewed as a long-term project, governed by a plan that will be updated periodically.

  • All resources, including data, software, germplasm, and other biological materials should be openly accessible to all.

  • The Federally funded components of the Initiative should be coordinated by an NSTC interagency working group with USDA, NSF, DOE, NIH, OSTP, and OMB representation.

  • All awards should be made on a competitive basis with peer review.

  • Partnerships with the private sector and with other nations are vital for success. 

The accomplishments over the last five years far exceed the original goals set by the IWG in 1998 for the NPGI. In part, this is due to an increased investment in plant genome research, which has produced the necessary genomics research tools and biological resources for the research community to make rapid advances. In addition, as predicted in 1998 by the IWG, the cost of key technologies such as sequencingand high throughput experimental methods, as well as computer  hardware/software and data storage, has decreased steadily. As a result, individual investigators and teams of investigators from a broad spectrum of institutional settings have been able to participate in plant genome research, thus contributing to accelerated advances and enabling the US to be at the forefront of plant genomics.

Success of the last five years has been due in part to strict adherence to principles governing the administration of the NPGI investment in research. Projects were selected on a competitive basis with rigorous peer review.  A requirement of funding was that all outcomes of NPGI-coordinated research were to be freely shared in a timely manner. Significant investments by NIH and other agencies in human genome research have also contributed significantly to the success of the NPGI. These investments have supported the development of new research technologies and tools in genomics, which are generally applicable to all genomics research.

In this report, the IWG documents significant NPGI achievements since 1998 and articulates a new plan for the next five years (2003 2008). The IWG solicited and received input from many sources in the development of this plan.  Recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences and a variety of stakeholder workshops including scientists, growers, producers and the public were used to identify future scientific opportunities and challenges for the NPGI (See Appendix below).  The new plan will be used by each of the participating agencies to establish priorities and initiate new activities consistent with the mission of each agency and with the overall goals of the NPGI.