News FocusGenetics

Reaping the Plant Gene Harvest

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Science  21 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5452, pp. 412-414
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5452.412

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As the databases fill up with a wealth of new plant gene sequences, researchers are turning to several innovative techniques to decipher the genes' functions. These range from simply comparing new sequences to those already in the databases to using "microarrays" to analyze how gene expression patterns change as conditions vary and generating wholesale lots of mutant plants that can then be screened for interesting trait changes. In addition, plant scientists are venturing into the vast frontier of "metanomics," which tracks the effects of particular mutations or environmental changes on a plant's entire metabolic repertoire. Based on the progress so far, plant researchers are already predicting that the advances in tools and techniques will allow them to make unprecedented progress in figuring out what plant genes do.