One Thousand Plant Initiative
The One Thousand Plant Transcriptomics Initiative is also known as the 1KP or oneKP initiative. It involves a global collaboration of researchers who are examining the diversification of plant species and genomes across the 1-billion-year history of green plants.
Gane Ka-Shu Wong, a professor at the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences, and James Leebens-Mack, professor of plant biology at the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, are the lead scientists of the study.
One Thousand Plant Initiative- The Research
The nine-year effort has involved more than 200 international researchers. Two of them are known scientists from the University of Tennessee, and four more of the co-authors participated in the One Thousand Plant Initiative project while pursuing graduate degrees at UT. The Scientists included C. Neal Stewart, Jr., and Ed Schilling.
Stewart is a professor of plant sciences in the UT Herbert College of Agriculture. He also holds the endowed Racheff Chair of Excellence in Plant Molecular Genetics and is co-director of the UT Center for Agricultural Synthetic Biology within the UT Institute of Agriculture.
Using his lab, Stewart and several graduate students and scientists with post-doctoral appointments helped identify plants to grow for the project from which RNA from expressed genes could be isolated for sequencing.
The group identified approximately 50 different species for the One Thousand Plant Initiative targeted, then performed several studies that have already been published.
Stewart explained that the team of One Thousand Plant Initiative targeted- flammable plants, plants that can move their leaves, including plants that can accumulate heavy metals and with antimicrobial properties.
The UTIA co-authors include Jason Burris, who is a Ph.D. student. Jason Burris continues to work with Stewart on DARPA-funded projects.
The second UT faculty co-author on the One Thousand Plant Initiative, Ed Schilling, is a professor of plant systematics in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Ed Schilling is involved in collaborative research with a group in Germany to study the evolution of wild lettuce, and information gathered in the 1KP project is helping their ongoing efforts to understand the relationship between species in North America and Europe/Asia in the complex group of plants.