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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Arabidopsis thaliana

Today's Botany Photo of the Day features Arabidopsis thaliana, also known as thale cress.

Arabidopsis is a famous model organism1 but it's not as familiar to most people as fruit flies or yeast. Check out the photographs to see what this plant looks like.

1. A "model organism" is an organism that's extensively studied by a large number of research labs. These species usually serve as representatives of larger taxa. In this case, Arabidopsis is a typical flowering plant.


  1. Don't get me started about "model organisms". This term is extensively abused, for example by researchers using S. cerevisiae as their "model organism" for (allegedly) studying human cancer and aging. I know several in the plant community that feel similarly about Arabidopsis with respect to it not being the paradigm for all plant life that some seem to make it out to be.

  2. Hurray for A. thaliana! I'm starting research for my Hons thesis this summer on this organism! :D

  3. I hate Arabidopsis! Boring! No interesting secondary metabolism, no fun poisons or deadly defense mechanisms, no secondary structures with potential to maim, debilitate, or torture herbivores. Not even the ability to summon parasitic wasps to lay eggs in their attackers which avenge the plant by burrowing through the offender from the inside. Doesn't even smell nice like cilantro.

    And it has a tiny genome. How embarrassing.

    Studying Arabidopsis because you like plants is like getting interested in zoology because you liked tigers and sharks and winding up studying white lab mice.

    Research grants be damned, we need to stop wasting time on this awful little mustard plant and make Datura, Erythroxylum, Cannabis, Papaver, Atropa, and Hyoscyamus the new model plants of the future.
    Mike in Barcelona

  4. HEY, don't be dissin' my organism, you bastards! =P

    Admittedly, not my organism for long as I finally get to ditch plants for protists this summer, but after three years of work with Arabidopsis I insist it is a fun convenient model (arguably among the best for any reasonable genetics work, despite the long generation spans) and definitely worthy of attention!

    And models are kind of essential if you want to do any sort of real, detailed biology -- that is, learning more about life than what a few thousand genome sequences look like. We need to put the organism back into biology, especially in its evolutionary side...

    Although I agree with Anon#2 about Cannabis. That would be an *awesome* model organism indeed!!! And Psylocibe should be the model fungus...