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Arabidopsis thaliana sl12.jpg
Thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Arabidopsis
Heynh. in Holl & Heynh.
Type species
Arabis thaliana

See text

Arabidopsis (rockcress) is a genus in the family Brassicaceae. They are small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard. This genus is of great interest since it contains thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), one of the model organisms used for studying plant biology and the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced. Changes in thale cress are easily observed, making it a very useful model.


Currently, the genus Arabidopsis has nine species and a further eight subspecies recognised. This delimitation is quite recent and is based on morphological and molecular phylogenies by O'Kane and Al-Shehbaz[1][2] and others.

Their findings confirm the species formerly included in Arabidopsis made it polyphyletic. The most recent reclassification moves two species previously placed in Cardaminopsis and Hylandra and three species of Arabis into Arabidopsis, but excludes 50 that have been moved into the new genera Beringia, Crucihimalaya, Ianhedgea, Olimarabidopsis, and Pseudoarabidopsis.

All of the species in Arabidopsis are indigenous to Europe, while two of the species have broad ranges also extending into North America and Asia.

In the last two decades, Arabidopsis thaliana has gained much interest from the scientific community as a model organism for research on numerous aspects of plant biology. The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) is a curated online information source for Arabidopsis thaliana genetic and molecular biology research, and The Arabidopsis Book is an online compilation of invited chapters on Arabidopsis thaliana biology. In Europe, the model organism resource centre for Arabidopsis thaliana germplasm, bioinformatics and molecular biology resources (including GeneChips) is the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock CentreNASC whilst in North America germplasm services are provided by the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center, (ABRC) based at the Ohio State University. The ordering system for ABRC was incorporated into The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) database in June 2001 whilst NASC has always (since 1991) hosted its own ordering system and genome browser.

In 1982, the crew of the Soviet Salyut 7 space station grew some Arabidopsis, thus becoming the first plants to flower and produce seeds in space. They had a life span of 40 days.[3] Arabidopsis thaliana seeds were taken to the Moon on the Chang'e 4 lander in 2019, as part of a student experiment.

Arabidopsis is quite similar to the Boechera genus.

List of species and subspecies[edit]

Distribution: Greenland, Labrador, Nunavut, Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan
A. arenosa subsp. arenosa
Distribution: Europe: native in Austria, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, NE France, Germany, Hungary, N Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Ukraine; naturalized in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia and W Siberia, and Sweden; absent in Albania, Greece, C and S Italy, and Turkey.
A. arenosa subsp. borbasii
Distribution: E Belgium, Czech Republic, NE France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Ukraine. Doubtfully occurring in Denmark.
Distribution: SE France.
Distribution: Bosnia, Croatia.
A. halleri subsp. halleri
Distribution: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, N and C Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and S Ukraine. Probably introduced in N France and extinct in Belgium.
A. halleri subsp. ovirensis (Wulfen)
Distribution: Albania, Austria, NE Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, SW Ukraine, Yugoslavia.
A. halleri subsp. gemmifera (Matsumura)
Distribution: Russian Far East, northeastern China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
A. lyrata subsp. lyrata
Distribution: NE European Russia, Alaska, Canada (Ontario west into British Columbia), and southeastern and central United States (Vermont south into northern Georgia and Mississippi northward into Missouri and Minnesota).
A. lyrata subsp. petraea (Linnaeus) O'Kane & Al-Shehbaz
Distribution: Austria, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, N. Italy, Norway, Russia (NW Russia, Siberia and Far East), Scotland, Sweden, Ukraine, boreal North America (Alaska and Yukon). Apparently extinct in Poland.
A. lyrata subsp. kamchatica (Fischer ex D.C.) O'Kane & Al-Shehbaz
Distribution: boreal Alaska, Canada (Yukon, Mackenzie District, British Columbia, northern Saskatchewan), Aleutian Islands, eastern Siberia, the Russian Far East, Korea, northern China, Japan, and Taiwan.
Distribution: Carpathian Mountains (Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and adjacent Ukraine).
Distribution: northwestern Italy and, presumably extinct, in adjacent SW Switzerland.
Distribution: Fennoscandinavia and the Baltic region.
Distribution: native range almost all Europe to central Asia, now naturalized worldwide.


Cytogenetic analysis has shown the haploid chromosome number (n) is variable and varies across species in the genus:[4]

A. thaliana is n=5[5] and the DNA sequencing of this species was completed in 2001. A. lyrata has n=8 but some subspecies or populations are tetraploid.[6] Various subspecies A. arenosa have n=8 but can be either 2n (diploid) or 4n (tetraploid).[7] A. suecica is n=13 (5+8) and is an amphidiploid species originated through hybridization between A. thaliana and diploid A. arenosa.[8]

A. neglecta is n=8, as are the various subspecies of A. halleri.[7]

As of 2005, A. cebennensis, A. croatica and A. pedemontana have not been investigated cytologically.

Reclassified species[edit]

The following species previously placed in Arabidopsis are not currently considered part of the genus.

  • A. bactriana = Dielsiocharis bactriana
  • A. brevicaulis = Crucihimalaya himalaica
  • A. bursifolia = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. campestris = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. dentata = Murbeckiella pinnatifida
  • A. drassiana =
  • A. erysimoides = Erysimum hedgeanum
  • A. eseptata = Olimarabidopsis umbrosa
  • A. gamosepala = Neotorularia gamosepala
  • A. glauca = Thellungiella salsuginea
  • A. griffithiana = Olimarabidopsis pumila
  • A. himalaica = Crucihimalaya himalaica
  • A. huetii = Murbeckiella huetii
  • A. kneuckeri = Crucihimalaya kneuckeri
  • A. korshinskyi = Olimarabidopsis cabulica
  • A. lasiocarpa = Crucihimalaya lasiocarpa
  • A. minutiflora = Ianhedgea minutiflora
  • A. mollis = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. mollissima = Crucihimalaya mollissima
  • A. monachorum = Crucihimalaya lasiocarpa
  • A. mongolica = Crucihimalaya mongolica
  • A. multicaulis = Arabis tibetica
  • A. novae-anglicae = Neotorularia humilis
  • A. nuda = Drabopsis nuda
  • A. ovczinnikovii = Crucihimalaya mollissima
  • A. parvula = Thellungiella parvula
  • A. pinnatifida = Murbeckiella pinnatifida
  • A. pumila = Olimarabidopsis pumila
  • A. qiranica = Sisymbriopsis mollipila
  • A. richardsonii = Neotorularia humilis
  • A. russeliana = Crucihimalaya wallichii'
  • A. salsugineum = Eutrema salsugineum
  • A. sarbalica = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. schimperi = Robeschia schimperi
  • A. stenocarpa = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. stewartiana = Olimarabidopsis pumila
  • A. stricta = Crucihimalaya stricta
  • A. taraxacifolia = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. tenuisiliqua = Arabis tenuisiliqua
  • A. tibetica = Crucihimalaya himalaica
  • A. tibetica = Arabis tibetica
  • A. toxophylla = Pseudoarabidopsis toxophylla
  • A. trichocarpa = Neotorularia humilis
  • A. trichopoda = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. tschuktschorum = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. tuemurnica = Neotorularia humilis
  • A. verna = Drabopsis nuda
  • A. virgata = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. wallichii = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. yadungensis =


  1. ^ O'Kane, Steve L.; Al-Shehbaz, Ihsan A. (1997). "A synopsis of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae)". Novon. 7 (3): 323. doi:10.2307/3391949. JSTOR 3391949.
  2. ^ O'Kane, Steve L.; Al-Shehbaz, Ihsan A. (2003). "Phylogenetic position and generic limits of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae) based on sequences of nuclear ribosomal DNA". Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 90 (4): 603. doi:10.2307/3298545. JSTOR 3298545. S2CID 85316468.
  3. ^ "First species of plant to flower in space". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  4. ^ Al-Shehbaz, Ihsan A.; O'Kane Jr, Steve L. (2002). "Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae)". The Arabidopsis Book. Volume 1. The Arabidopsis Book. 1. The American Society of Plant Biologists. pp. e0001. doi:10.1199/tab.0001. PMC 3243115. PMID 22303187.
  5. ^ Lysak, M. A; Berr, A; Pecinka, A; Schmidt, R; McBreen, K; Schubert, I (2006). "Mechanisms of chromosome number reduction in Arabidopsis thaliana and related Brassicaceae species". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103 (13): 5224–5229. Bibcode:2006PNAS..103.5224L. doi:10.1073/pnas.0510791103. PMC 1458822. PMID 16549785.
  6. ^ Dart, Sara; Kron, Paul; Mable, Barbara K (2004). "Characterizing polyploidy in Arabidopsis lyrata using chromosome counts and flow cytometry". Canadian Journal of Botany. 82 (2): 185. doi:10.1139/b03-134.
  7. ^ a b Joly, Simon; Schmickl, Roswitha; Paule, Juraj; Klein, Johannes; Marhold, Karol; Koch, Marcus A. (2012). "The Evolutionary History of the Arabidopsis arenosa Complex: Diverse Tetraploids Mask the Western Carpathian Center of Species and Genetic Diversity". PLOS ONE. 7 (8): e42691. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...742691S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042691. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3411824. PMID 22880083.
  8. ^ Jakobsson, Mattias; Hagenblad, Jenny; Tavaré, Simon; SäLl, Torbjörn; Halldén, Christer; Lind-Halldén, Christina; Nordborg, Magnus (2006). "A Unique Recent Origin of the Allotetraploid Species Arabidopsis suecica: Evidence from Nuclear DNA Markers". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 23 (6): 1217–31. doi:10.1093/molbev/msk006. PMID 16549398.

Further reading[edit]

  • Al-Shehbaz, I. A., O'Kane, Steve L. (2002). Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae). The Arabidopsis Book: 1-22. online version.
  • Ceccato, Luca; Masiero, Simona; Sinha Roy, Dola; Bencivenga, Stefano; Roig-Villanova, Irma; Ditengou, Franck Anicet; Palme, Klaus; Simon, Rüdiger; Colombo, Lucia (2013-06-17). Grebe, Markus (ed.). "Maternal Control of PIN1 Is Required for Female Gametophyte Development in Arabidopsis". PLoS ONE. 8 (6): e66148. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066148. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3684594. PMID 23799075.
  • O'Kane Jr, S. L., i Al-Shehbaz, I. A. (1997). A synopsis of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae): Novon 7: 323–327.
  • O'Kane Jr, S. L., i Al-Shehbaz, I. A. (2003). Phylogenetic position and generic limits of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae) based on sequences of nuclear ribosomal DNA: Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 90 (4): 603-612.