Deciphering the Genetic Code o

I'll be thefirst to admit it, I'm a skeptic of the worst kind; it's just my nature, I guess. So, I guess it goes without saying that I'm not impressed with all the recent hype about the Human Genome Project. People have gone so far as to hail the HGP as "the cure" for all of mankind's ails. Even with advance technology that allows scientists to map the genome sequence of a human being, we have failed to find a cure the common cold. And yet, scientists feel confident that the tools needed to treat genes involved in diseases will likely be developed within the next twenty years. My response – I'll believe it when I see it. While I do not dispute of importance of this project and its ability to revolutionize biological research and medicine, I chose to look at a similar project that has had a significant impact on agriculture – the completion of a plant's genetic map.
In 1996, a $70 million dollar project was started to map the genetic sequence of a plant. Drawing heavily on research done by the HGP, scientists on three continents worked in collaboration on the project, which was completed this past December. The complete genetic code of Arabidopsis thaliana was published in the December issue of the scientific journal, Nature.
Researchers working the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Japan selected Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the mustard family and a cousin to the cauliflower plant, over approximately 250,000 other species because the weed, more commonly known as thale cress, contains all the chromosomes of a more complex plant but is biologically simple. Each plant has 25,000 genes located on 5 genes; these genes contain about 117 million chemical base pairs (corn, on the other hand, has about 3 billion base pairs). In addition to its relative biological simplicity, the plant grows quickly, producing as many as eight generations in a single year.

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