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Nat Rev Genet. 2015 May;16(5):285-98. doi: 10.1038/nrg3883. Epub 2015 Apr 9.

Beyond the thale: comparative genomics and genetics of Arabidopsis relatives.

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Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Spemannstrasse 35, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


For decades a small number of model species have rightly occupied a privileged position in laboratory experiments, but it is becoming increasingly clear that our knowledge of biology is greatly improved when informed by a broader diversity of species and evolutionary context. Arabidopsis thaliana has been the primary model organism for plants, benefiting from a high-quality reference genome sequence and resources for reverse genetics. However, recent studies have made a group of species also in the Brassicaceae family and closely related to A. thaliana a focal point for comparative molecular, genomic, phenotypic and evolutionary studies. In this Review, we emphasize how such studies complement continued study of the model plant itself, provide an evolutionary perspective and summarize our current understanding of genetic and phenotypic diversity in plants.

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