a structure that effectively exploits the application of detailed knowledge gained from Arabidopsis and judiciously selected reference species to related crop species. To that end, we recommend a detailed characterization of genomes of a small number of reference species selected on the basis of criteria detailed below, to represent key plant taxa. This should be accompanied by parallel investment in genetics and genomics tools from related crop plants that are explicitly designed to transfer knowledge gained from research in model and reference species into agronomic development. Partnership among federal agencies that span the breadth from basic to applied plant research is essential.

Species to be considered for development into reference status should be chosen according to how well they fulfill the following criteria:

  1. Experimental tractability, including

    1. Forward genetics—the ability to isolate mutants and the relevant genes,

    2. Reverse genetics—the ability to target, or identify, mutations in a predefined gene,

    3. Availability of a physical genetic map.

    4. Short generation time,

    5. Ease of transformation,

    6. Ease of growth under defined conditions.

  1. Low genome complexity, including

    1. Diploid genome,

    2. Small genome size.

  1. Size, expertise, and ability of the research community meant to use the sequence and functional-genomics tools, including the opportunity for international collaboration.

  2. Suitability for translation to agronomically valuable plants.

The few plant species that meet those criteria should be selected to encompass a range of phylogenetic diversity and to include major plant processes not present in Arabidopsis. Such species should already have well-developed research communities and experimental resources and

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