To Arabidopsis Newsgroup Readers
In a recent email to Chris Somerville I added a note to say
that I was disappointed in the kind of exchanges we have on the
Arabidopsis information network. He suggested that I write a
piece for the start of the new system. Here goes.
Since I signed on last December there have been few items of
substance. Among them were the minutes of the Joint Informatics
Task Force meeting in November, Delaney's note on lamda DNA
preparations in December, and the email address list in March.
This is not to say that the more than 70 other exchanges I have
read were not useful or interesting but to me most were either
not of general interest or lacked that element that makes you say
to a colleague "if you didn't read that yet you should".
I must admit that I had hoped to see more in the way of
discussions, arguments, useful gadgetry, comments on new methods
and equipment, preprints of short accepted papers, or abstracts
of longer ones, brief reports on seminars and meetings, notices
of forthcoming ones, grant opportunities, trial balloons, and
some plain crazy ideas - all of course relevant to people inter-
ested in Arabidopsis.
To risk preaching to the converted let me report that at the
meeting in Raleigh, NC last month on Plant Breeding in the Nine-
ties, Dick Flavell stressed the important role that Arabidopsis
will play in plant breeding. You will know what he was driving
at - the value of a model system for isolating genes of economic
interest and seeing how to regulate, integrate, and manipulate
them and then doing it with other plant systems. I believe the
news group network provides an important way to accelerate all of
this. Some people will be afraid of having their ideas pirated.
However, unlike a casual conversation, the ideas we float in this
medium are recorded for all to see. I daresay that if proof of
priority were required this is it.
I remember many years ago learning the easy way to make up
70% ethanol from 95%, which is much cheaper than 100%, by taking
70 ml and adding 25 ml of water to a final volume of 95 ml. Our
students have many other simple tricks of the trade and ideas to
learn, can we not share them more openly here?
The recent burst of exchanges about tetraploidy is a good
sign. It will be to everyone's benefit if we continue to respond
to queries by writing to the network and not just the person
raising the question.
Peter Day, Rutgers.
April 25, 1991