The image displays a single Arabidopsis mutant line from the Salk Institute insertion mutant collection/database. The location of the Agrobactrium T-DNA insertion is known from sequencing of The image displays a single Arabidopsis mutant line from the Salk Institute insertion mutant collection/database. The location of the Agrobactrium T-DNA insertion is known from sequencing of the genome.
Credit: Kent Schnoeker, The Salk Institute
The image depicts the locations of Agrobacterium T-DNA insertions (triangles) in a small segment of one Arabidopsis chromosome. The locations of individual predicted genes (top line) and the transcription units (bottom line) are indicated by the multi-colored boxes.
Credit: Huaming Chen/Joseph Ecker
Scientists have inactivated almost three-quarters of all genes in the genome of Arabidopsis thaliana, a species widely used in plant research. The feat, which results in the largest so-called "knockout" gene collection of a complex multi-cellular organism, now allows researchers to study the function of each of those genes individually or together.
The findings, published in the August 1 issue of the journal Science, mark an important milestone in the field of plant genomics. Following the release of the Arabidopsis genome sequence in 2000, the National Science Foundation (NSF) jump started the next phase of plant genome research, instituting the Arabidopsis 2010 Project to determine the location and function of each and every Arabidopsis gene by the year 2010. Knowing the function of all the genes in this model plant will aide scientists immensely in their work to improve disease resistance, control how quickly or slowly fruit will ripen, and create healthier and improved crops.
Joe Ecker at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and his research team created knockouts, or inactivating mutations, in 21,700 of the estimated 29,454 Arabidopsis genes. Knocking out a gene or group of genes allows scientists to observe what goes wrong in the mutant plant and determine what function the inactivated gene(s) had in the plant system.
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