Arabidopsis is an angiosperm, a dicot from the mustard family (Brassicaceae). It is popularly known as thale cress or mouse-ear cress and is native to Eurasia, Africa and North America. Over the past 40 million crucifer species have diverged worldwide.A. thaliana is edible by humans and is used in salads or sautéed. Arabidopsis thaliana has a relatively small genome of approximately 135 mega base pairs (Mbp) and it was the first flowering plant whose genome was sequenced in 2000 thus making it a useful model organism in plant biology.
The plant is small, a flat rosette of leaves from which grows a flower stalk 6–12 inches high. It only takes 5– 6 weeks from seed germination to the production of a new crop of seeds. The usefulness of Arabidopsis thaliana as a model plant is assisted by its short life period in the laboratory, mass production of its seeds (upto 10,000 per plant) and its reproduction by the process of self-fertilization. It can be easily grown in the lab in a relatively small space. Arabidopsis thaliana can also be easily made transgenic by using Agrobacterium tumefaciens as the vector to introduce foreign genes. All these characteristics makes this an effective model plant for research purposes.