What is the plant genome?

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The first plant, whose entire genome was sequenced in Dec. 2000, was Arabidopsis Thaliana, also Known as Thale Guess. It was sequenced by a consortium of scientists from EU, Japan, and USA and called Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (AGI) which was launched in 1996.

Arabidopsis was selected to be decoded first because it is made of up of 5 chromosomes only. This makes its genome simple and small and at the same time its basic processes are reflected across the plant kingdom.

It has applications mainly in the following fields:

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(i) Agriculture:

The understanding of plant genome will help scientists to develop crops that grow faster, disease resistant and produce more efficiently even in drought areas. Understanding of plant genome will also open the way for crops breeding without genetic engineering. It will also help scientists to determine weather growing shoot of a plant will develop into flower or not.

(ii) Medicine:

The complete decoding of plant genome has direct relevance to human biological functions because many fundamental life process molecular and cellular levels are common to all higher organizations. Arabidopsis plant contains numerous genes equivalent to those that cause disease in humans ranging from certain types of cancer to premature aging.

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(iii) Energy:

Plants hold great potential as the source of renewable energy. Thus, decoding of gene will help to understand how photosynthesis converts solar energy and C02 into biomass so that we can develop better plants for fuel and chemical uses.

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