Gene Activation
Genes control the growth and development of all organisms—plants and people included. Many of the genes found in plants are also found in animals and other life-forms, providing even more insight into the most basic machinery that is required to be “alive.”

Arguably the most-studied plant in the world is the mouse-eared cress, Arabidopsis thaliana. Its small size and rapid life-cycle (about 50 days) make it ideal for experimental investigation. Arabidopsis was the first plant to have all of its genes sequenced. Individual genes can now be linked with their biochemical functions, providing a road map to understanding plant development across all of plant-kind.

The movie, Arabidopsis thaliana: A Life shows a plant playing out its 6-week life from germination, through growth, flowering, and seed formation, to ensuing death. The background of color-coded visual data indicates the activation state of genes during each life stage.

The activity of many genes must be finely orchestrated for any individual—plant or human—to successfully grow and develop through all stages of life.

A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch;
I couldn’t make one.

– Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, 1974

Arabidopsis thaliana: A Life, Roger Hangarter, time-lapse movie

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