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Arabidopsis (A-ra-bi-dóp-sis, rockcress) is a genus in the family Brassicaceae. They are small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard. This genus is of great interest since it contains thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), one of the model organisms used for studying plant biology and the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced. Changes in thale cress are easily observed, making it a very useful model.


Currently the genus Arabidopsis has nine species and a further eight subspecies recognised. This delimitation is quite recent, and is based on morphological and molecular phylogenies by O'Kane & Al-Shehbaz (1997, 2003) and others.

Their findings confirm that the species formerly included in Arabidopsis made it polyphyletic. The most recent reclassification moves two species previously placed in Cardaminopsis and Hylandra and three species of Arabis into Arabidopsis, but excludes 50 species that have been moved into the new genera Beringia, Crucihimalaya, Ianhedgea, Olimarabidopsis, and Pseudoarabidopsis.

All of the species in Arabidopsis are indigenous to Europe, while two of the species have broad ranges also extending into North America and Asia.

In the last two decades, Arabidopsis thaliana has gained much interest from the scientific community as a model organism for research on numerous aspects of plant biology. The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) is a curated online information source for Arabidopsis genetic and molecular biology research, and The Arabidopsis Book is an online compilation of invited chapters on Arabidopsis biology. In Europe, the model organism resource centre for Arabidopsis germplasm, bioinformatics and molecular biology resources (including GeneChips) is the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock CentreNASC whilst in North America germplasm services are provided by the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center, (ABRC) based at the Ohio State Universitymarker. The ordering system for ABRC was incorporated into The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) database in June 2001 whilst NASC has always (since 1991) hosted its own ordering system and genome browser.

List of species and subspecies

A. arenosa subsp. arenosa
:Distribution: Europe: native in Austria, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, NE France, Germany, Hungary, N Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia; naturalized in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia and W Siberia, and Sweden; absent in Albania, Greece, C and S Italy, and Turkey.

A. arenosa subsp. borbasii
:Distribution: E Belgium, Czech Republic, NE France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Ukraine. Doubtfully occurring in Denmark.

:Distribution: SE France.

:Distribution: Bosnia, Croatia.

A. halleri subsp. halleri
:Distribution: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, N and C Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and S Ukraine. Probably introduced in N France and extinct in Belgium.

A. halleri subsp. ovirensis (Wulfen)
:Distribution: Albania, Austria, NE Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, SW Ukraine, Yugoslavia.

A. halleri subsp. gemmifera (Matsumura)
:Distribution: Russian Far East, northeastern China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

A. lyrata subsp. lyrata
:Distribution: NE European Russia, Alaska, Canada (Ontario west into British Columbia), and southeastern and central United States (Vermont south into northern Georgia and Mississippi northward into Missouri and Minnesota).

A. lyrata subsp. petraea (Linnaeus) O'Kane & Al-Shehbaz
:Distribution: Austria, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, N. Italy, Norway, Russia (NW Russia, Siberia and Far East), Scotland, Sweden, Ukraine, boreal North America (Alaska and Yukon). Apparently extinct in Poland.

A. lyrata subsp. kamchatica (Fischer ex D.C.) O'Kane & Al-Shehbaz
:Distribution: boreal Alaska, Canada (Yukon, Mackenzie District, British Columbia, northern Saskatchewan), Aleutian Islands, eastern Siberia, the Russian Far East, Korea, northern China, Japan, and Taiwan.

:Distribution: Carpathian Mountains (Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and adjacent Ukraine).

:Distribution: northwestern Italy and, presumably extinct, in adjacent SW Switzerland.

:Distribution: Fennoscandinavia and the Baltic region.

:Distribution: native range almost all Europe to central Asia, now naturalized worldwide.


Cytogenetic analysis has shown that the haploid chromosome number (n) is variable and can be 5, 8 and 13.

A. thaliana is n=5 and the DNA sequencing of this species was completed in 2001.

A. suecica is n=13 (5+8) and is an amphidiploid species originated through hybridization between A. thaliana and diploid A. arenosa.

A. neglecta is n=8 as are the various subspecies of A. halleri.

Various subspecies of A. lyrata and A. arenosa can be either 2n (diploid) or 4n (tetraploid).

As of 2005, A. cebennensis, A. croatica and A. pedemontana have not been investigated cytologically.

Reclassified species

The following species previously placed in Arabidopsis are not currently considered part of the genus.
  • A. bactriana =
  • A. brevicaulis = Crucihimalaya himalaica
  • A. bursifolia = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. campestris = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. dentata = Murbeckiella pinnatifida
  • A. drassiana =
  • A. erysimoides = Erysimum hedgeanum
  • A. eseptata = Olimarabidopsis umbrosa
  • A. gamosepala = Neotorularia gamosepala
  • A. glauca = Thellungiella salsuginea
  • A. griffithiana = Olimarabidopsis pumila
  • A. himalaica = Crucihimalaya himalaica
  • A. huetii = Murbeckiella huetii
  • A. kneuckeri = Crucihimalaya kneuckeri
  • A. korshinskyi = Olimarabidopsis cabulica
  • A. lasiocarpa = Crucihimalaya lasiocarpa
  • A. minutiflora = Ianhedgea minutiflora
  • A. mollis = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. mollissima = Crucihimalaya mollissima
  • A. monachorum = Crucihimalaya lasiocarpa
  • A. mongolica = Crucihimalaya mongolica
  • A. multicaulis = Arabis tibetica
  • A. novae-anglicae = Neotorularia humilis
  • A. nuda = Drabopsis nuda
  • A. ovczinnikovii = Crucihimalaya mollissima
  • A. parvula = Thellungiella parvula
  • A. pinnatifida = Murbeckiella pinnatifida
  • A. pumila = Olimarabidopsis pumila
  • A. qiranica = Sisymbriopsis mollipila
  • A. richardsonii = Neotorularia humilis
  • A. russeliana = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. salsuginea = Thellungiella salsuginea
  • A. sarbalica = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. schimperi = Robeschia schimperi
  • A. stenocarpa = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. stewartiana = Olimarabidopsis pumila
  • A. stricta = Crucihimalaya stricta
  • A. taraxacifolia = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. tenuisiliqua = Arabis tenuisiliqua
  • A. tibetica = Crucihimalaya himalaica
  • A. tibetica = Arabis tibetica
  • A. toxophylla = Pseudoarabidopsis toxophylla
  • A. trichocarpa = Neotorularia humilis
  • A. trichopoda = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. tschuktschorum = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. tuemurnica = Neotorularia humilis
  • A. verna = Drabopsis nuda
  • A. virgata = Beringia bursifolia
  • A. wallichii = Crucihimalaya wallichii
  • A. yadungensis =


  • O'Kane Jr, S. L., & Al-Shehbaz, I. A. (1997). A synopsis of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae): Novon 7: 323–327.
  • Al-Shehbaz, I. A., O'Kane, Steve L. (2002). Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae). The Arabidopsis Book: 1-22. online version.
  • Martin et al. (2002) Evolutionary analysis of Arabidopsis, cyanobacterial, and chloroplast genomes reveals plastid phylogeny and thousands of cyanobacterial genes in the nucleus. online version
  • O'Kane Jr, S. L., & Al-Shehbaz, I. A. (2003). Phylogenetic position and generic limits of Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae) based on sequences of nuclear ribosomal DNA: Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 90 (4): 603-612

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