DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Thale cress, Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the Cruciferae (cabbage family). This small plant is widely used for research into genetics. It is also used by molecular biologists studying developmental processes in plants. A number of factors make A. thaliana ideal for these applications: a short generation time (5 weeks); a high seed number per plant (10,000); a small genome (about one tenth the number of base pairs as wheat); a tendency to self-fertilization (which leads to genetic uniformity & stablity); and a susceptibility to infection by Agrobacterium tumifaciens (which means that the plants can be genetically transformed by plasmids).
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