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9 Genetic Studies with Arabidopsis: A Historical View

Csaba Koncz, George P. Rédei


In recent years, Arabidopsis has become a most popular tool for plant biological studies. Although it is well suited for a wide range of research areas, we focus primarily on its use for genetic analyses. It is often heard: Arabidopsis genetics, but we should rather say genetics with Arabidopsis. The interest is not in the specificities of this plant but, rather, in what it can reveal about basic biology. The primary advantages of Arabidopsis for studying basic biological phenomena (Rédei 1970Rédei 1975a, 1992; Meyerowitz 1987, 1989; Somerville 1986; Somerville 1989; Rédei and Koncz 1992) were first summarized by Laibach (1943).

In comparison, Mendel’s peas were very advantageous in the 19th century because spontaneous recessive variants were available in this autogamous plant, and the second generation could be classified within the pods of the F1 plants. Drosophila has a 2-week life cycle and can be raised in large numbers in small milk bottles, and the polytene chromosomes of the salivary glands display 5000 landmarks. Genetic segregation in maize can be followed by the large number of individual kernels immobile on a single cob. In addition, at the pachytene stage, the extended chromosomes display discrete chromomeres. Crossing is easy because about 50 million pollen grains may be released by a single monoecious plant. Some principal advantages of Neurospora are the linear arrangement of the meiotic products in the asci and the less than 2-week life cycle, with vegetative cultures requiring only 4–5 days. Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) can be manipulated similarly to prokaryotes...

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