The subject of most plant studies – Arabidopsis

The problem with research into the natural world is that there are so many variables, it’s hard to disentangle them. One way that researchers reduce variables is to use a ‘model organism’. A model organism is one that is commonly used for research and then once the behaviour is studied in that organism then variations are looked at in others. For example the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is used for insect research.

For plant biology, the model organism tends to be Arabidopsis thaliana, which is a small flowering annual weed and a member of the mustard (Brassicaceae) family.ref Many many studies of plants are conducted on this species. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed it’s a flowering plant – that is, an angiosperm. So findings from this model plant don’t necessarily represent conifers. Just something to keep in mind when reading plant research.