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First Plant Genome Thrills Biologists

12:00pm, November 15, 2004

An international team of scientists has published the first nearly complete genetic blueprint of a plant. Now, thale cress—a small weed related to the mustard plant—joins more than 30 bacteria, baker's yeast, the nematode worm, the fruit fly, and the human in a growing roster of genetically decoded organisms.

Hailed by many as plant biology's breakthrough of the decade, the unveiling of thale cress' genome, described in a set of papers in the Dec. 14 Nature, is expected to accelerate the pace of discovery in research fields ranging from molecular medicine to agriculture.

During the past 2 decades, thale cress, or Arabidopsis thaliana, has become plant biology's experimental favorite. Like a lab mouse,

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