of leading Arabidopsis researchers. In this multi-institution project, or collection of related projects, NSF supported the early collaboration and planning efforts, but the U.S. scientific community now is also supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Energy. Ongoing communications among scientific administrators, the scientific community, and the national and international steering committees facilitate the identification of needs, rationalization and prioritization, and negotiations with agencies around resource requirements. The remarkable collaborative spirit of the participants has made it a successful model for scientific cooperation among several thousand participating scientists and scientific administrators in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Thus, it seemed an especially appropriate case with which to examine the ingredients that facilitate the sharing of research resources.
Perhaps most central to the issue of sharing research resources are the biological resource centers and the informatics that facilitate exchange of information and materials. The Arabidopsis stock centers were established in 1991 to preserve and distribute biological materials supporting the large Arabidopsis research community. There are two such centers—the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC) at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre (NASC) at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Both of these stock centers have a comprehensive collection of seeds and clones as well as other research tools such as T-DNA lines and transposable element-transformed lines, transposon lines, promoter trap lines, recombinant inbred populations, and yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) and phage libraries—which they distribute worldwide. The number of stocks sent has increased significantly in the last three years, from 15,000 total seed stocks distributed in 1992 by ABRC and NASC combined, to about 45,000 seed stocks distributed in 1994. As for DNA, 1,000 clones and 6 YAC libraries were sent in 1991; just two years later, about 3,100 clones and 166 libraries were distributed, according to the NSF's Multinational Coordinated Arabidopsis Thaliana Genome Research Project Progress Report for Year Four. Centers are now providing considerable technical services such as multiplexed libraries to facilitate screening for specific genes.
Three major databases are key resources for sharing information. These include the Stanford-based Arabidopsis thaliana Database (AtDB) previously at Massachusetts General Hospital, where it was called An Arabidopsis thaliana Database (AAtDB). This is a comprehensive collection of many types of information, including genetic map information obtained directly from investigators or from publicly available collections and databases. The Arabidopsis Information Management System (AIMS) is an on-line database system running on a central machine at Michigan State University. It is devoted primarily to stock center operations, but like the other information