National Plant Genome Initiative 2003-2008
Home II. Major Accomplishments 1998-2002
Executive Summary
Plan for 2003-2008
Cost Estimates for Achieving Objectives

















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 information 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 International Rice Genome Sequencing Project; (3) the Cereal Genome Initiative; (4) the International Genome Research Organization for Wheat; (5) International Tomato Genome Sequencing Community; (6) the Medicago truncatula Genome Group; (7) the Poplar Functional Genomics Consortium; and (8) the Global Musa Genomic Consortium.