Submitted to: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/18/2006
Publication Date: 4/11/2007
Citation: Garvin, D.F. 2007. Brachypodium: a new monocot model plant system emerges. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 87:1177-1179.
Interpretive Summary: Domesticated grass crops such as wheat are vital to human existence, and understanding how genes in these crops function will be important to future crop improvement. It would be desirable to have a "model" plant species related to our important grass crops that can serve as a research subject for analysis of gene identity and function. To date, such a model system has been lacking. The wild grass species Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) has been proposed as a new model plant system for grass crops. Brachypodium is closely related to a large number of exceptionally important crops, including wheat, and has the necessary biological attributes desired in a model plant system. Several key discoveries have been made recently that are now leading scientists to embrace Brachypodium as a model system for grass crop research. The availability of this new model plant system will accelerate the discovery of agriculturally important genes that can be used to improve the productivity of wheat and other grass crops.
Technical Abstract: Model plant systems provide unique opportunities to explore genomes and gene functions in surrogates of important crop plants in a manner that is more efficient than pursuing the research in the crops themeselves. A small number of model plant systems exist; these include the dicot plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Medicago truncatula, and the monocot grass Oryza sativa (rice). Unfortunately, rice does not possess the entire spectrum of attributes desired in a model sytstem for both structural and functional genomics research. Thus, there has been no broadly useful model plant system available for research in a number of the world's most important crops, particularly wheat. Recently, the small grass species Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) was proposed as a potential model plant system for grass crop research. In a very short period of time, a range of genetic and genomic resources either have been developed or are being developed to allow this to come to fruition. This includes a commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy to sequence the entire genome of Brachypodium. Once available, these resources will establish Brachypodium as the newest model plant system and will fill a long-empty void in genomics resources for grass crop improvement.