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  • Writer's pictureSinead Mackintosh


Arabidopsis thaliana is a small flowering weed that is a key model organism used across scientific disciplines. Its genetic makeup is relatively small and well documented since we have had the gene sequence for 19 years now. The quick (6-week life cycle) and low maintenance all contribute to this little plant being ideal for experimentation. Most plant-based studies will use Arabidopsis seeds, seedlings or plants to test environmental effects and gene manipulation. Since we know how the plant should grow and what genes it has, any changes to the plants biology or surroundings should be easily quantified and documented. A lot of work on agricultural crops started off in this little weed and has helped increase food yield across the world! You can think of Arabidopsis as the plant equivalent to a laboratory mouse, because they represent a good starting point for experiments that will be upscaled to more complex organisms.

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