Location: Plant Science Research
Title: Past, present, and future of Brachypodium as a model plant Author
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 12, 2013
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Biologists rely on a plethora of model systems to study an exceptionally broad range of questions in biology. These model systems range from simple prokaryotes to complex animal species. In plants, the most powerful model system has been Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis), a small dicotyledonous weed with an ensemble of features that make it particularly amenable as a model system. While a staggering amount of biological knowledge has been gained from Arabidopsis, there has been limited translation to crop improvement due to fundamental differences between dicots and domesticated grasses, the most important crops for human existence. Rice (Oryza sativa) has afforded many opportunities for translational genomics for crop improvement. However, it falls short as a truly tractable monocot model system because not only is rice a large aquatic tropical species, but it is evolutionarily distant from cool season grasses. The rapid development of Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) as a new model system reflects the serendipitous convergence of access to high throughput sequencing at U.S. Department of Energy research laboratories, the rapid emergence of interest in cellulosic ethanol production from herbaceous perennial grasses, and an appreciation for the potential that a small genome cool season grass “Arabidopsis” has for cereal crop research. The development of Brachypodium as a model system is inverted compared to previous model systems, with genome sequencing emerging nearly simultaneously with typical core research resources. Historical aspects in the development of Brachypodium as a model system will be presented, as will the likely role for Brachypodium in future crop improvement.