GENOPLANTE, a new program for plant genome analysis in France

Dominique Job1, Michel Caboche2, Georges Pelletier3, and the scientists of the Génoplante program4
1Laboratoire mixte CNRS-INRA-Aventis CropScience, Lyon, France; 2Unité de recherche en génomique végétale, Evry, France; 3Génétique et amélioration des plantes, INRA, Versailles, France; 4

Because plants and plant-derived products are the main sources of nutrients for animals and humans, plant genome analysis is a rapidly expanding field of research. Specific tools are being developed, including the building of physical maps with RFLP, AFLP and SNP markers, the coverage of these genomes with overlapping genomic fragments (e.g. YACs and BACs), which can speed up the process of positional cloning of genes of agronomic interest and the sequencing of genomes. Two model species, Arabidopsis and rice, have been elected for being integrally sequenced. At the same time, these model species are currently the target for functional analysis and gene identification. The analysis of the genomes of crops is more tedious, due to their size and redundancy. The synteny existing between model genomes and the genomes of crops is therefore considered as a possible way to speed up their analysis.
In France a program named Génoplante has been set up to study model (Arabidopsis and rice) as well as crop (wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower and pea) genomes. Public (INRA, CNRS, CIRAD, IRD) and private (Aventis, Biogemma, Bioplante) partners have agreed to collaborate on the these issues, notably in order to a) develop expertise and competitiveness in the field of plant genome analysis and b) identify performing alleles, useful for molecular breeding by positional cloning and candidate gene approaches. Each plant research program involves four areas: a) genome analysis (Maps/BAC libraries/EST/Tools for cloning), b) agronomic traits, c) resistance to pathogens, and d) quality-related traits. Specific features of the scientific projects managed by the Génoplante GIS (Groupement d'intérêt scientifique) include: a) public-private balance in decision making, b) joint public and private funding for a 5-year program (200 millions €/5 years), c) filing of patents, access to technologies, licensing managed by Génoplante-Valor (created in September 2001), and d) contribution of the French scientists to the understanding of specific functions of plant genomes at a fundamental level. A total of 94 projects have been funded in phase 1 started in 1999 (400 scientists involved). A total of about 100 selected projects will start in phase 2 in autumn 2001. Information on Génoplante programs, data, and program coordinators can be found at To favor fast public availability of data, access to the Génoplante database was open in July 2001 via
Finally, a major goal of the French Génoplante program is to catalyze the creation of a European network in plant genomics. As a starting point of this collaborative action, several joint projects between Génoplante and Gabi (Genome Analysis of the Plant Biological System; the German program on plant genomics), dealing with specific aspects of functional analysis of the Arabidospis genome, such as with nitrogen nutrition, cell wall metabolism, membrane proteins and sharing resource data on knocked-out, T-DNA, transformants will be co-funded by the French and German ministries for research.

Copyright Cirad 2001 -