WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University scientist was part of a global team that has demonstrated a specialized mapping technique that could speed work in genomic fields by quickly finding genetic associations that shape an organism's observable characteristics.
Using plants from 93 different Arabidopsis thaliana populations, a team led by the Gregor Mendel Institute of Plant Biology in Austria was able to find genetic associations among multiple phenotypes, or traits, suggesting that the same genes or closely related genes controlled those traits. David E. Salt, a Purdue professor of plant biology and co-author of a Nature paper on the study released Wednesday (March 24), said the ability to find these types of genetic links could speed scientists' ability to find and isolate genes and understand their function.
"This may show that multiple phenotypes are being controlled by a specific region of the genome," Salt said. "It helps us understand the mechanisms."
A traditional search for a gene responsible for a particular characteristic requires using plants that have been phenotyped, or identified by characteristics. They are then crossed with others, and the offspring are phenotyped.
Scientists then check for similarities in offsprings' genes with the desired trait. The process can be painstaking and time consuming because many thousands of individuals may need to be checked, Salt said.
Genome-wide association mapping compares the sequence of DNA in genomes of many individual plants or animals to find similarities that narrow the scope of the search for a particular gene.
"We can look for a region in the genome that is in common among the individuals," Salt said. "For plant biologists, it's a much more efficient way of getting to genes. And for animal biologists, where making test crosses is more difficult, this is critical."
In this study, specific differences in DNA, called single nucleo
|Contact: Brian Wallheimer|