J Craig Venter Institute Receives $2.4M NSF Grant to Develop Arabidopsis Information Portal (AIP)

19th Sep 2013

The J Craig Venter Institute (JVCI), a not-for-profit genomics research institute, today announced that they have received $2.4 million dollars which represents the first year of a two year award from The National Science Foundation to fund the first phase of a planned five year project to develop the Arabidopsis Information Portal (AIP). Christopher Town, Ph.D., is principal investigator on the grant.

Town and other JCVI researchers, along with collaborating scientists from the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, will use a combination of data federation and web services technologies to provide the Arabidopsis community with integrated views of a wide range of relevant data types.

Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant native to Europe and Asia, is considered a model organism, having been studied since the early 1900’s. In 2000 the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative, of which JCVI researchers were a part, completed the sequencing of this first plant genome. Arabidopsis has a relatively small genome but has about 27,000 genes, similar to the number in humans. Since then, Town has continued to lead Arabidopsis research at JCVI in a series of functional genomics projects under the NSF 2010 Program.

The AIP concept was developed in a series of workshops organized by the International Arabidopsis Informatics Consortium following the announcement that funding for The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) would terminate in August 2013. In addition to hosting all the data currently in TAIR, the AIP will provide access to and integration of a more diverse set of data types, such as expression data, protein interaction data and data from the 1001 Genomes Project, which is an online catalogue of Arabidopsis genetic variation.

The AIP will have a modular design that will allow community members worldwide to develop and plug in both data and analysis modules, thus allowing costs to be distributed across multiple countries and funding agencies. Staff from TAIR will assist in providing data from the current TAIR database to the AIP in the first year of the grant.

"We look forward to undertaking this important resource development project that will serve the Arabidopsis community and enable all of us to continue to study and better understand this important model organism," said Christopher Town.

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