Plant defense compounds: systems approaches to metabolic analysis.
ABSTRACT Systems biology attempts to answer biological questions by integrating across diverse genomic data sets. With the increasing ability to conduct genomics experiments, this integrative approach is being rapidly applied across numerous biological research communities. One of these research communities investigates how plants utilize secondary metabolites or defense metabolites to defend against attack by pathogens and other biotic organisms. This use of systems biology to integrate across transcriptomics, metabolomics, and genomics is significantly enhancing the rate of discovery of genes, metabolites, and bioactivities for plant defense compounds as well as extending our knowledge of how these compounds are regulated. Plant defense compounds are also providing a unique proving platform to develop new approaches that enhance the ability to conduct systems biology with existing and previously unforseen genomics data sets. This review attempts to illustrate both how systems biology is helping the study of plant defense compounds and vice versa.
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ABSTRACT: The genetic architecture of plant defense against microbial pathogens may be influenced by pathogen lifestyle. While plant interactions with biotrophic pathogens are frequently controlled by the action of large-effect resistance genes that follow classic Mendelian inheritance, our study suggests that plant defense against the necrotrophic pathogen Botrytis cinerea is primarily quantitative and genetically complex. Few studies of quantitative resistance to necrotrophic pathogens have used large plant mapping populations to dissect the genetic structure of resistance. Using a large structured mapping population of Arabidopsis thaliana, we identified quantitative trait loci influencing plant response to B. cinerea, measured as expansion of necrotic lesions on leaves and accumulation of the antimicrobial compound camalexin. Testing multiple B. cinerea isolates, we identified 23 separate QTL in this population, ranging in isolate-specificity from being identified with a single isolate to controlling resistance against all isolates tested. We identified a set of QTL controlling accumulation of camalexin in response to pathogen infection that largely colocalized with lesion QTL. The identified resistance QTL appear to function in epistatic networks involving three or more loci. Detection of multilocus connections suggests that natural variation in specific signaling or response networks may control A. thaliana-B. cinerea interaction in this population.Genetics 11/2008; 180(4):2237-50. · 4.39 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Glucosinolates are sulfur-rich, anionic natural products that upon hydrolysis by endogenous thioglucosidases called myrosinases produce several different products (e.g., isothiocyanates, thiocyanates, and nitriles). The hydrolysis products have many different biological activities, e.g., as defense compounds and attractants. For humans these compounds function as cancer-preventing agents, biopesticides, and flavor compounds. Since the completion of the Arabidopsis genome, glucosinolate research has made significant progress, resulting in near-complete elucidation of the core biosynthetic pathway, identification of the first regulators of the pathway, metabolic engineering of specific glucosinolate profiles to study function, as well as identification of evolutionary links to related pathways. Although much has been learned in recent years, much more awaits discovery before we fully understand how and why plants synthesize glucosinolates. This may enable us to more fully exploit the potential of these compounds in agriculture and medicine.Annual review of plant biology 02/2006; 57:303-33. · 23.65 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In Arabidopsis, tandemly arrayed genes (TAGs) comprise >10% of the genes in the genome. These duplicated genes represent a rich template for genetic innovation, but little is known of the evolutionary forces governing their generation and maintenance. Here we compare the organization and evolution of TAGs between Arabidopsis and rice, two plant genomes that diverged ~150 million years ago. TAGs from the two genomes are similar in a number of respects, including the proportion of genes that are tandemly arrayed, the number of genes within an array, the number of tandem arrays, and the dearth of TAGs relative to single copy genes in centromeric regions. Analysis of recombination rates along rice chromosomes confirms a positive correlation between the occurrence of TAGs and recombination rate, as found in Arabidopsis. TAGs are also biased functionally relative to duplicated, nontandemly arrayed genes. In both genomes, TAGs are enriched for genes that encode membrane proteins and function in "abiotic and biotic stress" but underrepresented for genes involved in transcription and DNA or RNA binding functions. We speculate that these observations reflect an evolutionary trend in which successful tandem duplication involves genes either at the end of biochemical pathways or in flexible steps in a pathway, for which fluctuation in copy number is unlikely to affect downstream genes. Despite differences in the age distribution of tandem arrays, the striking similarities between rice and Arabidopsis indicate similar mechanisms of TAG generation and maintenance.PLoS Computational Biology 09/2006; 2(9):e115. · 4.87 Impact Factor