This special article published in the December 14 issue of Nature 2000 408:796-815, describes the genomic sequence of Arabidopsis thaliana. Of the 125-megabase genome, the sequenced regions cover 115.4 megabases. Genomic studies reveal that a whole-genome duplication occurred during the evolution of Arabidopsis and that there has been subsequent gene loss and extensive local geneduplications. Lateral gene transfer from cyanobacterial-like ancestor of the plastid has contributed to the enrichment of a dynamic genome. The total number of genes reaches a figure of over 25,000 encoding proteins from 11,000 families. In only two other eukaryotes, namely, Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans (nematode), the complete sequencing has been done; the comparison of the above three organisms show similar functional diversity. However, Arabidopsis lacks several common protein families indicating that the three sets of common protein have undergone changes in the above three multicellular eukaryotes.
The unprecedented achievement of genome sequencing, has paved the way for understanding a wide range of plant- specific gene functions, making it possible to draw a more comprehensive comparison between conserved processes encountered in all eukaryotes.