Founders Message

Chris Somerville and Elliot Meyerowitz

This electronic book, The Arabidopsis Book (TAB), is an attempt at a new mode of communication between researchers and a new model for scientific publishing. TAB in its initial stage is a compilation of over 100 invited chapters, each reviewing in detail an important and interesting aspect of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, with reference to what is known in other plants and in other kingdoms. Each set of authors has agreed that their chapter can be kept up-to-date either by the original authors or by others. TAB will therefore be a dynamic information resource that will evolve with the state of knowledge. We envision evolution of the format as well as the contents - initially by taking advantage of the Web-based possibilities of hyperlinks, which will be added to cross-reference gene names and references to other chapters, and which will eventually lead from each gene and sequence reference to sequence databases, and from each paper cited to its abstract. The Arabidopsis Book is therefore envisioned as a complementary resource to the many databases that contain specific information about Arabidopsis, including The Arabidopsis Information Resource (www.Arabidopsis.org). It is our hope that this book will be broadly useful and, more generally, that it will facilitate the development of new web-based tools for dissemination of knowledge.

TAB will be available only via the Internet and will be available free of charge. The American Society of Plant Biologists will provide funds for the mounting and maintenance of the book on the Internet as a public service.

Version 1.0 will contain approximately 100 chapters describing all aspects of the biology of Arabidopsis. The list of chapters and authors is below. One novel aspect of a web-based publication such as this is that there is no limit to the amount of supporting materials associated with each chapter, so that authors have been advised that there is no limit to the number of figures or number of references. In addition, authors can include movies, data sets, unlimited tables, and any other supporting material.

Unlike paper-based versions, the chapters in TAB are expected to evolve as knowledge advances. This will happen in two ways. First, the authors of a chapter may submit a revision at any time. These will be numbered sequentially (version 1.1, 1.2, ... 2.0, 3.0 etc.) to reflect major and minor revisions. All versions will remain accessible and all versions will be self-contained. Thus, version 3.0 will contain all the information in version 1.0 except material that has been found to be erroneous and in addition will contain all new material.

In addition, we envision that TAB will evolve such that each chapter may have an addendum of comments by other scientists. The purpose of the addenda is to provide a vehicle for incorporating new results in a timely manner and for alerting readers to contentious issues. The editors or an editorial board will review the addenda before mounting them to ensure that the addenda meet a similar standard of scientific rigor to that in the primary articles. It is expected that new versions of a chapter will incorporate or address issues and data from the addenda and, therefore, each new version of a chapter will have addenda specifically associated with that chapter. All versions of each chapter will remain available.

We expect that each chapter will provide a scholarly and authoritative overview of the state of knowledge about the topic of the chapter. Because the focus of the book is the biology of Arabidopsis, the topic will be described with particular reference to the situation in Arabidopsis. However, where necessary, relevant information gleaned from other organisms will be appropriate. It may also be relevant to present a certain amount of comparative information about other species in order to clarify the degree to which information about Arabidopsis can be used to understand other species.

The initial editors are Chris Somerville and Elliot Meyerowitz. However, we expect that the editorial board of the book will grow and change with time, and that The Arabidopsis Book will remain a useful resource for many years.