PlaNet aims to develop and deliver a high level plant genome database for the systematic exploration of Arabidopsis and other plants. The completion of Arabidopsis' 120 million base pair genome in late 2000 marked a milestone in genome based biology. A network of European scientists significantly contributed to this success by completing chromosomes III, IV and V (ESSA, funded by the European Commission). In addition to the sequencing efforts, about half of the genome has been annotated in Europe.

The information on plant genes is of the utmost importance for the future development of agricultural and environmental research. Since the information resulting from experiments and bioinformatic interpretation is highly complex, the compilation of information resources requires dynamic information acquisition, expert curation and the integration of bioinformatic methods. One option to build comprehensive database infrastructure resources would be the installation of a centralised facility. However, such a proposal would suffer not only from the need for long-term commitment, but also from the difficulty of attracting a critical mass of the much sought after bioinformaticians. As an alternative, PlaNet is a distributed, shared effort among both experienced bioinformatics groups and plant molecular biologists to establish a comprehensive integrated database in a collaborative network.