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Atlas for the analysis of genetic regulation of plant nutrients

Biologists have created an online tool to share and explore new information about the genetic regulation of mineral uptake and use in plants.
Atlas for the analysis of genetic regulation of plant nutrients
Different populations of the same species contain small genetic variations because each population adapts to its specific life history and ecological niche. When a genetic mutation favours an organism's survival in that niche and is passed on to future generations, it becomes 'fixed' in the population.

The EU-funded IONOMIC VARIATION (The genetic basis and adaptive significance of natural ionomic variation) project aimed to uncover the evolutionary forces that result in mutations being fixed, leading to genetic variation and adaptation.

To do this, researchers used the genetically well-characterised model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. They sought to use the plant's natural variation in genes that control micronutrient and mineral production to link gene variation to function.

Macronutrients like calcium, micronutrients like zinc and heavy metals like cadmium can reveal important information about an organism, such as its physiological state or health. The total composition of all such elements in an organism is called an ionome, variations of which are used to profile differences in gene function.

IONOMIC VARIATION used a high-throughput technique called genome-wide association mapping to study the natural genetic diversity of Arabidopsis thaliana. This allowed researchers to identify key elements that regulate mineral nutrient and trace element uptake, translocation and accumulation in roots, leaves and seeds.

The web-based tool Ionomics Atlas was developed to share these new insights into mineral nutrient homeostasis, and to provide a resource for further research. This enhanced understanding of how the ionome is genetically regulated could be applied to crops like rice to improve agricultural performance and quality.

Related information

Keywords

Genetic regulation, plant, mineral uptake, genetic variations, IONOMIC VARIATION, Arabidopsis thaliana
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