The Department of Plant Sciences, the Sainsbury Laboratory and the University Library are delighted to announce an agreement to fund the University access to TAIR, the “community database for researches on Arabidopsis”, an essential source of information for the plant biology and model organism communities. The database contains genetic and genomic data for Arabidopsis thaliana, an “important reference organism for many fundamental aspects of biology as well as basic and applied plant biology research”. TAIR serves as a “central access point for Arabidopsis data, annotates gene function and expression patterns using controlled vocabulary terms, and maintains and updates the A. thaliana genome assembly and annotation.”
In August 2013 it was announced by TAIR that the U.S. National Science Foundation funding that provided it free at point of use worldwide was due to end. The consortium managing TAIR then decided to move to a subscription model, though it continues as a non-profit. Longer-term the ambition in the community is to create The Arabidopsis Information Portal (AIP). The integration afforded thereby will move TAIR from one database orbited by numerous, yet disconnected, smaller databases into a “dynamic, modular, and distributed international consortium of databases with a single point of access for users”. An article in The plant cell (June 2012, 24:6, p. 2248-2256) describes this effort in detail: “It is worthwhile emphasizing that the Arabidopsis community in particular, and the plant community as a whole, needs the services currently provided by TAIR, and in the near future to be provided by the AIP because innumerable non-Arabidopsis publications reference Arabidopsis genes. In the absence of such a resource, future advances in plant biology and bioinformatics would be confounded, resulting in a substantial loss in the quality of plant science and analyses of non-plant systems that build on the findings made in Arabidopsis.”
As one of the highest users worldwide of the TAIR, Cambridge is pleased to continue to support the resource as the AIP is developed further.