connected in networks, and how they control plant growth, form, function, performance, and evolution. The last 10 years have witnessed an explosion of knowledge regarding the various individual pathways that control plant growth and development. Biologists now better understand the principles underlying how plants perceive changes in their ambient environment; how they respond to pathogens; how they build flowers, leaves, and roots; and how various classes of hormone receptors direct plant growth. Several plant genomes have been sequenced, a few of which were sequenced to high quality. These discoveries, coupled with continued genome sequencing and resequencing, are the springboard for the next 10 to 20 years, a time during which fundamental research would have the definition of a plant that is more than “the sum of the parts” as its goal.
Because of the federal research and development investments made over the last 20 years, plant biology is at the doorstep of an era of unprecedented large dataset collection, systems-wide analyses of those data, model building, and ever more precise hypothesis testing. The fruits of this research will be deeper understanding of how plant genomes condition important traits. However, the current knowledge is simply too underdeveloped, and translation of that knowledge is too costly or too imprecise, for the majority of desired applications. Thus, NPGI should aim to produce knowledge and tools for efficient trait modification and technology leaps so that genomic information can be translated effectively into environmentally sustainable products of benefit to humankind.
The committee recommends the following guiding principles to achieve those goals.
The committee strongly endorses the conclusions of the 2002 NRC report, The National Plant Genome Initiative: Objectives for 2003–2008, that studies aimed at defining core concepts of molecular and developmental plant biology are best undertaken rapidly and efficiently in model plant systems. Basic discovery that can be most rapidly and efficiently done in these systems should receive high priority. The committee advocates deep investment in the broadest possible set of genomics tools for these carefully selected systems. These systems would be chosen on the basis that they can provide vital paradigms that inform many other aspects of NPGI and can maximally leverage continued, independent investments in Arabidopsis genome science.
Because the diversity of plant form and function utilized by humans is very broad, the committee strongly endorses the approach that parts of the overall genomics toolkit be deployed to investigate specific aspects of plant tissue and organ development, environmental adaptations, or biochemical processes that are not well represented in core model species. This will include a great deal of genome sequencing along the entire plant phylogeny to inform comparative func-