The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR), a database of genetic and molecular biology data for the laboratory plant Arabidopsis thaliana, is one of the most widely used plant databases in the world. Some 60,000 scientists visit the site and view over 1,000,000 pages per month, and usage continues to climb. Funding from the National Science Foundation is ending soon and the program will begin transitioning to a subscription-based service in October.
For the past 14 years, TAIR has been managed by Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Plant Biology. Data available from TAIR include the A. thaliana genome sequence, gene structure and function information, mutant alleles, phenotypes, gene expression, genetic and physical maps and markers, research literature, and information about the Arabidopsis research community. In 2000 A. thaliana became the first plant to have its genome sequenced, and it continues to be an important and widely used experimental subject due to the deep understanding of fundamental biological processes already gained from work on this plant and the extensive array of tools and resources available for its experimental manipulation.
"We are very proud that Carnegie researchers, in collaboration with others, built and launched this very successful and widely used resource," remarked Wolf Frommer, director of Carnegie's Department of Plant Biology. "It debuted in 1999 and has been a tremendous success and an increasingly important resource for the plant-research community. We wish it continued success in its subscription-based form."
Principal Investigator Eva Huala explained: "We will launch a subscription requirement for researchers at companies beginning in October of this year, followed by an academic subscription requirement in the spring or summer of 2014. We will ensure that the subscription price is easily affordable for academic scientists, teachers, and students, and we will allow a limited degree of data access for those who are unable to pay. Details of the subscription plan including the cost will be announced in the coming months. We will keep TAIR available to as many people as possible."
Frommer stated: "TAIR excels in genome annotation. It has created the one of the best annotated genomes for any multicellular organism anywhere in the world. I expect them to continue to excel in this area and assist all plant biology researchers in their scientific research, in close coordination with the other plant genome databases."
To ensure that TAIR continues to serve the public interest, a new nonprofit entity will manage TAIR with a mission to make scientific data publicly available in a way that is sustainable over the long term. All funds from subscriptions will be used to maintain and enhance TAIR to ensure continued public availability of the data.
"Our new funding plan will provide the plant research community with the continuously updated, high quality data they rely on. We will continue to develop new TAIR pages and tools, and new kinds of data to help with plant science research," Huala said.
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