USDA-ARS scientists recently announced the first complete sequencing of a plant genome.
Arabidopsis, a flowering plant of the mustard family, was chosen because its genome is one of the smallest among flowering plants.
Now the scientists are working to identify what traits each of the 25,000 genes controls. They hope to identify genes that offer disease or insect resistance.
Once genes are identified, the scientists may be able to move them into plants that need additional resistance or retool them to increase their effectiveness.
"This remarkable accomplishment," says former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, "may pave the way for increasing agricultural productivity by improving crop yields and quality to help maintain a global food supply while protecting the environment."