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Ill be the first to admit it Im a skeptic of the worst kind its just my nature I guess So I guess it goes without saying that Im not impressed with all the recent hype about the Human Genome Project People have gone so far as to hail the HGP as the cure for all of mankinds ails Even with advance technology that allows scientists to map the genome sequence of a human being we have failed to find a cure the common cold And yet scientists feel confident that the tools needed to treat genes involved in diseases will likely be developed within the next twenty years My response Ill believe it when I see it While I do not dispute of importance of this project and its ability to revolutionize biological research and medicine I chose to look at a similar project that has had a significant impact on agriculture the completion of a plants genetic map In 1996 a 70 million dollar project was started to map the genetic sequence of a plant Drawing heavily on research done by the HGP scientists on three continents worked in collaboration on the project which was completed this past December The complete genetic code of Arabidopsis thaliana was published in the December issue of the scientific journal Nature Researchers working the United States Great Britain France Germany and Japan selected Arabidopsis thaliana a member of the mustard family and a cousin to the cauliflower plant over approximately 250000 other species because the weed more commonly known as thale cress contains all the chromosomes of a more complex plant but is biologically simple Each plant has 25000 genes located on 5 genes these genes contain about 117 million chemical base pairs corn on the other hand has about 3 billion base pairs In addition to its relative biological simplicity the plant grows quickly producing as many as eight generations in a single year Many individuals
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