Biotech Updates

New Tool for Rice Functional Genomics

October 10, 2008

Scientists from University of California Davis, led by plant pathologist Pamela Ronald, have developed a new tool for investigating rice gene function. The inexpensive, publicly-available rice DNA microarray covers nearly all the 45,000 genes in the rice genome. The researchers hope their tool will lead to the advancement of functional genomics studies of rice. Details are published this week in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Scientists have developed high-throughput methods to examine gene expression profiles using "DNA Microarrays or ‘genomic chips’, thousands of fragments of DNA fixed to a glass slide. The technology allows scientists to get a better picture of the interaction of thousands of genes simultaneously.

To date, most microarray studies in rice have not focused on discovery of gene function per se, but instead have provided a profile of a particular organ, environmental response, or genetic background, the researchers say. Using the NSF45K array, Ronald and her team were able to identify genes that carry out important light-related biochemical processes such as photosynthesis and photorespiration.

The group also has developed a web-based program that allows the user to compare gene expression profiles across multiple rice microarray platforms, which will further accelerate this research.

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