GARNet: Genomic Arabidopsis Research Network and MASC: Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Warwick HRI


Summary [4000 characters] This grant proposal seeks to obtain the best value for money for the substantial investment BBSRC makes annually in to plant science research (£53M in 2007); by spending (2.3%) of this money on continuing and expanding the UK Arabidopsis Network, GARNet, and providing co-ordination for the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee (MASC). Over the last two decades research in to Arabidopsis has generated dramatic advances in our understanding of general plant biology and basic biological processes. The need for translating this basic knowledge gained in models such as Arabidopsis, into practical application is now greater than ever given current global pressures, such as an increasing demand for food, competition for land use and climate change. There are currently 17,800 Arabidopsis researchers in approximately 6,800 laboratories spread around the world. Ensuring that this community is kept up to date with relevant information and provided with appropriate resources requires a great deal of information dissemination and co-ordination at both the national and international level. Networks such as GARNet and MASC enable the Arabidopsis community in the UK and aboard to take advantage of the numerous tools, resources, data and stock centres that currently exist. These single structure networks help researchers make the best of limited funding resources, prevent duplication of effort, allow economies of scale and speed up research. The completion of the Arabidopsis genome sequence in 2000 sparked an explosion in knowledge and efforts to understand how plants function. This was accompanied by a growth in new techniques and technologies (genomics) and subsequent increase in data production. In the UK, BBSRC funded the Genomic Arabidopsis Resource Network (GARNet) to accelerate access to genomic technologies and provided monies for a full time administrator who acted as the central contact point for the network, organised the annual meeting and maintained the website. In a similar manner since 2002 a full time MASC coordinator has been employed to help co-ordinate Arabidopsis research across the globe, promote communication between researchers, and facilitate free exchange of data and amongst the community. This application seeks funds for Dr Ruth Bastow supported by a high level administrator to work as the co-ordinator for GARNet and MASC. By providing relevant information and access to resources the GARNet office will assist national and international researchers make the best possible progress by maximize synergies and making efficient use of tools and data. The Arabidopsis community is now uniquely poised to take full advantage of the past 20yrs of investment and deliver the knowledge base that will be needed to effectively meet current (and future) world challenges. Only be maintaining the co-ordination that is provided by GARNet and MASC will be it be possible to promote the translation of basic academic discovery into agricultural and environmental improvement.

Technical Summary

Arabidopsis has become the primary experimental systems for plant biology generating dramatic advances in our knowledge of plant and basic biological processes. This has led to 2300+ publications in the past 20 years; over 1000 in 2007, including 39 publications in Nature and Science (TAIR publications database). Many of these successes are the result of collaborations, exemplifying the efficacy and value of coordinated research that is often facilitated by community driven networks such as GARNet and MASC. For example in the UK GARNet has helped the community make the transition to Systems Biology and assisted the community gain £31M in systems biology funding over the past 2 years. MASC has helped the community generate numerous enabling tools and resources such as a library of insertion mutations in 94% of the nuclear genome. This proposal aims to maintain a dynamic and collaborative Arabidopsis community to ensure that Arabidopsis researchers remain competitive at the national and international, to facilitate the delivery of fundamental and underpinning knowledge that will be needed to effectively meet current and future challenges, and to strengthen ties between researchers across the globe. We request funds for Dr Ruth Bastow, whose enthusiasm, hard work and commitment has contributed to GARNet current success over the past 4yrs, to continue as GARNet co-coordinator along with a high level administrator to -Help UK plant researchers make the best progress in their field by collating and disseminating current and relevant information via the website, newsletter, annual meeting and additional workshops. -Ensure UK researchers remain competitive in the international arena by representing the UK and contributing to strategy at the international level. -Promote interactions between Arabidopsis researchers and other scientists, e.g. plant/crop researchers and theoreticians. -Provide co-ordination for the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee.


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Cook C (2014) Opportunities in plant synthetic biology. in Journal of experimental botany

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Grierson CS (2011) One hundred important questions facing plant science research. in The New phytologist

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International Arabidopsis Informatics Consortium (2010) An international bioinformatics infrastructure to underpin the Arabidopsis community. in The Plant cell

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International Arabidopsis Informatics Consortium (2012) Taking the next step: building an Arabidopsis information portal. in The Plant cell

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Leonelli S (2013) Making open data work for plant scientists in Journal of Experimental Botany

Description This award was a community support grant aimed at supporting the Arabidopsis research community in the UK. During this period the grant focussed on Big Data Issues and representing Plant Science on the national and international stage. A series of workshops, aimed at early career researchers, in the handling of data or accessing and manipulating big data resources (iPlant and Software Carpentry) were carried out and oversubscribed. A major output was working with iPlant to establish a grant to federate the iPlant cyberinfrastructure to TGAC and to integrate software from Warwick, Liverpool and Nottingham Universities into the iPlant workflows. The grant was highly active in establishing the UK Plant Sciences Federation (UKPSF) and worked closely with the Global Plant Council (GPC) to highlight the importance of plant science at a national and global level. The grant also organised annual meetings either alone of in conjunction with UKPSF.
Exploitation Route A BBSRC capital grant has been funded to federate the iPlant data environment to TGAC to establish a UK node.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment