Comparative genomics approaches to understanding and manipulating plant metabolism

Louis M.T. Bradbury, Tom D. Niehaus, Andrew D. Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Over 3000 genomes, including numerous plant genomes, are now sequenced. However, their annotation remains problematic as illustrated by the many conserved genes with no assigned function, vague annotations such as 'kinase', or even wrong ones. Around 40% of genes of unknown function that are conserved between plants and microbes are probably metabolic enzymes or transporters; finding functions for these genes is a major challenge. Comparative genomics has correctly predicted functions for many such genes by analyzing genomic context, and gene fusions, distributions and co-expression. Comparative genomics complements genetic and biochemical approaches to dissect metabolism, continues to increase in power and decrease in cost, and has a pivotal role in modeling and engineering by helping identify functions for all metabolic genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-284
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in biotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors’ research was supported in part by National Science Foundation award no. MCB-1153413 (to A.D.H) and by an endowment from the C.V. Griffin Sr. Foundation . We thank Valérie de Crécy-Lagard and Christopher S. Henry for critical reading of the manuscript.

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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