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Minutes of Multinational Steering Committee

Liz Dennis liz at PICAN.PI.CSIRO.AU
Tue Jul 19 07:41:24 EST 1994

On behalf of the Multinational Steering Committee I am Posting the minutes
of our meeting held in Amsterdam. We felt that the Arabidopsis Community
should know what went on at this meeting as we are your representatives.
Liz Dennis
 on behalf of the committee
Minutes of the Multinational Science Steering Committee Meeting
The Multinational Coordinated Arabidopsis thaliana Genome Research Project
Room P, Amsterdam RAI, June 20, 1994

Members attending: Liz Dennis (Chair), Michel Caboche, Richard Flavell, Howard G
oodman, Gerd Jurgens, Jose Martinez-Zapater, David Meinke, Elliot Meyerowitz, Be
rnard Mulligan, Marc van Montagu

Others attending: Mary Anderson (UK), Mike Bevan (UK), Mike Cherry (US), Joe Eck
er (US), Maarten Koornneef (NL), Anne Moffat (US), Sakti Pramanik (US), Randy Sc
holl (US), Nancy Terryn (BE), J. van Lyselettens (BE)

Government observers:  Doug Bigwood (USDA/US) Thomas Brady (NSF/US), Machi
th (NSF/US), Jim Tavares (DOE/US), Robert Rabson (DOE/US), Judy Verbeke (NSF/US)
, A. Vassarotti (EC)

Liz Dennis convened the committee meeting at 6:05 pm.  

Mike Cherry from Stanford University briefed the Committee on the current effort
s in the U.S. related to the development of the next generation Arabidopsis data
base for the Arabidopsis genome research project.  Mike Cherry is currently deve
loping the yeast genome database, and has initiated a plan that is designed to s
atisfy the needs and requirements for the next generation database as summarized
 in the report of the Arabidopsis database workshop held last year in Dallas.  H
e emphasized the need of the new Arabidopsis database to be connected to all kin
ds of other databases (a federation of databases) and his plan uses Genome Topog
rapher as the central software that allows interactions with other major databas
es including GenBank, dbEST, AAtDB, and AIMS.  The management of the new databas
e is envisioned to parallel that of any major scientific journal in that the man
agement team would consist of a production manager (the database developer, in t
his case), a couple of editorial/production assistants and an editorial board co
nsisting of scientific experts in various aspects of the Arabidopsis genome rese

The Committee fully endorsed the plan presented by Mike Cherry and encouraged hi
m to proceed with it.  It was agreed that this multinational committee would ser
ve as the ultimate advisory committee to the new database.  For specific topic e
ditors, some volunteers/suggested volunteers were named including; Koornneef and
 Meinke (for genetic maps), Dean, Ecker and Goodman (for physical maps), Ma and 
Meyerowitz (for the Greenbook information), and Scholl and Anderson (for stock c
enter-related information).

A concern was raised as to a void for the community in Arabidopsis informatics t
hat might be created while the new database is being developed, funded and imple
mented.  There was a strong consensus that AAtDB should be maintained until such
 time when the new database becomes widely available to the research community. 
 The Committee decided to post a notice in the electronic bulletin board urging 
the community to assist John Morris in maintaining the AAtDB updated.  Such noti
ce would include where and how to submit what kind of data in what form.  The no
tice should also inform the community what would happen to the data submitted an
d how and when they would be available to the community.  Liz Dennis agreed to d
raft the notice.

Joe Ecker reported on the Banbary Center Conference on Arabidopsis Genome Sequen
cing held last March with support from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.  The B
anbary Conference was to assess the state of sequencing in Arabidopsis, and one 
of the outcomes was a follow-up workshop organized by the North America Arabidop
sis Science Steering Committee held in early June at the National Science Founda
tion in Arlington, Virginia.  The workshop was attended by the members of the No
rth American Committee and Mike Bevan representing the EC sequencing program (ES
SA) plus representatives from USDA, DOE, NIH and NSF.  Before the workshop, inpu
t from the Arabidopsis research community was sought through the electronic bull
etin board.  Approximately 20 responses were received, all of which were thought
ful and detailed.  These responses were discussed and taken into consideration b
y the workshop participants.  A report of the workshop is being drafted currentl
y.  It will be circulated to the members of the Multinational Science Steering C
ommittee for review within a couple of weeks.  Joe Ecker summarized the recommen
dations of the workshop as follows:

1. Continued effort in physical mapping with the goal of placing 1,000 PCR-based
 markers on the map for the next three years,
2. Pilot scale-sequencing project to start in 2 years with the goal of completin
g sequencing of 10 mb in 3 years, followed by a 5-year sequencing program to com
plete the entire genome by the year 2004,
3. Economy of scale must be an important factor in considering the mechanisms fo
r the sequencing program, and,
4. A coordinated international effort is a must in order to reach these goals.

The Committee was enthusiastic about the recommendation of the workshop.  It was
 a general consensus that it is important to start the wheels turning now.  It w
as agreed that the recommended timetable is sensible and realistic based on the 
technical feasibility, estimate of costs, and the current state of the science. 
 There was also a strong sentiment that sufficient effort on physical mapping ne
eds to be expended now to prepare sequence-ready genome.  For example, the ESSA 
project is spending a major resource in physical mapping effort.  Members repres
enting various nations felt that this kind of initiative in the U.S. combined wi
th the ESSA project would help persuade their governments to participate in the 
genome sequencing effort.

Anne Moffet, a science writer who has been contracted by the National Science Fo
undation to help the Multinational Science Steering Committee to produce the ann
ual progress report - year four, shared several sample reports with the Committe
e and asked to think about the general format of the report.  The next annual re
port is to have dual purpose of both a progress report to be distributed to the 
researchers but alto to be used by various funding agencies as a report to admin
istrators and legislators.  Given this additional purpose, it was agreed that th
e report should include statements about the importance of studying plant biolog
y, the value of Arabidopsis as a model system, and examples of how the fields ha
ve grown over the last four years and of discoveries that were made possible bec
ause of the world-wide coordinated effort to study one model plant.  The overall
 format will not deviate significantly from previous years except that the writi
ng is expected to be less detailed.  Some writing assignments were made and spec
ific items for the report were suggested.  Liz Dennis proposed a meeting later i
n the week of a smaller group of people to discuss the content of the report in 
more detail.  (This took place on June 23.) 

David Meinke expressed his concern about naming new mutations in publicatins.  H
e has been serving as a clearing house for gene names for Arabidopsis, however, 
not all the journals are aware of his service.  It is obvious that this matter s
hould be addressed before the name appeared in publications.  The Committee agre
ed that something needs to be done and that it would send a letter to journal ed
itors and potential authors describing a set of instructions about how to name A
rabidopsis genes in publication.  David Meinke agreed to compose a first draft f
or Committee's review.

The Committee discussed the request from Carl Price to appoint a representative 
to his Gene Commission.  Some names were suggested and Liz Dennis agreed to cont
act them.

Mary Anderson proposed to coordinate publication of an Arabidopsis newsletter.  
The Committee unanimously endorsed the idea.  The newsletter will offer means wh
ereby short reports of on-going work or techniques or any articles that are not 
suitable to the electronic bulletin board can be posted.  Maps, gene lists, bibl
iographies would be other appropriate material for such a newsletter.  This may 
eliminate a need for lengthy appendix to annual progress report.  There will be 
some editorial control, however, articles will not be reviewed.  The newsletter 
will be published three times a year.  It will be produced electronically and di
stributed on Internet in a number of ways such as via Mosaic, as Gopher text fil
e, or as WAIS-indexed version.  This gives an added advantage that the newslette
r can be put together and displayed at more than one-site.  Furthermore, if the 
entire production is done electronically, there is no need to charge subscribers
.   A question was raised if a hard-copy needed to be produced.  The Committee r
ecommended that in leu of printing a hardcopy, highlights be printed in the PMB 
Reporter.  Mary Anderson was asked to discuss this possibility with Carl Price. 
 The Committee asked Mary Anderson to proceed with the goal of having the first 
issue to be published in October/November of this year.  Mary Anderson will soli
cit volunteer assistants for specific tasks as well as contributed papers throug
h the electronic bulletin board.

Elliot Meyerowitz and Bernard Mulligan reported plans for future Arabidopsis res
earch meetings as follows: June 12 -14, 1995 at University of Wisconsin in Madis
on, June 24 - 28, 1996 in Norwich, U.K., and the second week of June, 1997 at Un
iversity of Wisconsin in Madison.

Liz Dennis asked the Committee to select the next chair for this Committee.  The
 consensus was the next chair should be from the U.S., and the U.S. representati
ves promised to select one among themselves.

Adjourned at 9:45 pm.

On behalf of the Multinational Committee I am posting these minutes

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