T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E

Plant Genome

Help Site Map Text Only


Recent scientific advances made through our nation's investments (private and public sector) in studying DNA structure and function in humans and model organisms have resulted in a new biological paradigm for understanding the traits of organisms.  Through the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI), this paradigm can be extended to improving the useful properties of plants that are important to humanity.  Solutions to many of our nation's greatest challenges can be met through the application of plant-based technologies.  For example, the revitalization of rural America will come from a more robust agricultural sector; reductions in greenhouse gasses can be achieved from the production of plant biofuels for energy; chemically contaminated sites can be rehabilitated economically using selected plants; and worldwide malnutrition can be greatly reduced through the development of higher yielding and more nutritious crops that can be grown on marginal soil.

The long-term goal is to understand the structure and function of genes in plants important to agriculture, environmental management, energy, and health.  Reaching this goal will require asustained commitment from the Federal government working in collaboration with other nations and with the private sector.  The Initiative's short-term goals, to be achieved over the next five years, focus on building a plant genome research infrastructure by:

  • completing the sequencing of the model plant species Arabidopsis;
  • participating in an international effort to sequence rice;
  • developing the biological tools (e.g., physical maps, ESTs, mutants) to study complex plant genomes (e.g., corn, wheats, soybean, cotton);
  • increasing our knowledge of gene structure and function of important plant processes;
  • developing the appropriate data handling and analysis capabilities; and
  • ensuring this new information will be accessible to the broader community of plant biologists (e.g., growers, breeders, physiologists, biotechnologists) and maximizing the training opportunities that will arise from the Initiative.

The Initiative's Operating Principles:

  • The Initiative should be viewed as a long-term project, governed by a plan that will be updated periodically.
  • All resources, including data, software, germ plasm,and other biological materials should be openly accessible to all.
  • An NSTC interagency working group with USDA, NSF, DOE, NIH, OSTP, and OMB representation should coordinate the Federal portion of the Initiative
  • All awards should be made on a competitive basis with peer review.
  • Partnerships with the private sector and with other nations are vital for success.


In FY99, NSF's plant genome program received $50 million.  Future support for this program is contained in the President's FY2000 budget request. In FY2000, USDA proposes to support its participation in the initiative through its intramural program (ARS) and through the National Research Initiative and other competitive grants programs.  The NSTC IWG will coordinate these programs and facilitate communications between the federal government and the private sector. The IWG published their final report in January 1998.  Since then, the agencies that comprise the IWG have been working on implementing the plan through joint grant solicitations on rice, Arabidopsis, and other plant species of economic importance.

National Plant Genome Initiative, January 1998.  This report presents a five-year Federal plan to conduct research on plant genomes.  Building on the strengths of the USDA, NSF, DOE, and the NIH, the agencies propose specific scientific goals and programmatic objectives.

Office of Science and Technology Policy
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W
Washington, DC20502

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only

Privacy Statement

OSTP Science Current Projects Page

Mathematics and Science Teaching

Food Safety Research

Plant Genome

University-Government Partnership

Research Misconduct

Troop Health Presidential Review Directive

Minorities And Women In Science and Technology

Federal Laboratory Reform

Children's Research Initiative

National Bioethics Advisory Commission

Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring

Interagency Education Research Initiative

Synchrotron Radiation for Macromolecular Crystallography