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Plant Metabolomics- an update

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Metabolomics approaches enable the parallel assessment of the levels of a broad range of metabolites and have been documented to have great value in both phenotyping and diagnostic analyses in plants. These tools have recently been turned to evaluation of the natural variance apparent in metabolite composition. Here, I will describe progress made in the identification of the genetic determinants of plant chemical composition, focussing on the application of metabolomics strategies and their integration with other high-throughput technologies. I will use two examples to illustrate this. Firstly, by use of the quanitative trait loci approach I will describe work we and others have done to delineate the genetic underyling metabolite compositions (and its relationship with yield) in tomato. In the second part of my lecture I will describe more recent work in which we utilized natural variance, recombinant inbred lines and knockout mutants in combination with a broad range of metabolomics techniques to define novel phenylpropanoid pathway in the model plant Arabidopsis. Perhaps more importantly we were able to functionally demonstrate that the products of these pathways conferred UV-B resistance a fact that gave strong hints as to the processes of natural selection working at the metabolite level. These two examples, hopefully, illustrate that metabolomics represents an important addition to the tools currently employed in genomics-assisted selection for crop improvement.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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