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New Web resource to improve crop engineering
Date:6/19/2008

Stanford, CA. The Carnegie Institution's Department of Plant Biology today announced the launch of a new web-based resource that promises to help researchers around the world meet increasing demands for food production, animal feed, biofuels, industrial materials, and new medicines. It is the Plant Metabolic Network (PMN) at http://www.plantcyc.org/

"To use plants to their full potential, it is crucial to understand the chemical reactions that happen in metabolic processes, such as converting carbon dioxide to biomolecules, transporting nutrients, responding to the environment, and otherwise maintaining life," commented principal investigator Sue Rhee.

"This collection of databases is the first of its kind to be dedicated exclusively to plant metabolism. Researchers will have, right at their fingertips, what they need to understand and engineer a variety of different plants," remarked Eva Huala, co-principal investigator.

The project is a collaboration among varied databases and biochemists to create a broad network of information about plant metabolic pathways. A central feature is PlantCyc, a comprehensive plant biochemical pathway database with information from the literature and about the genes, enzymes, chemical reactions, and pathways involved in plant metabolism. The database currently contains over 500 biochemical pathways consolidated from over 290 plant species, including more than 2,000 reactions, 3,000 enzymes, and 4,000 literature citations.

"Plants are the ultimate source of nearly all human food, either directly or as food for the animals we eat, and they also produce a large fraction of our medicines, fragrances, spices, and other useful products," said Peifen Zhang, director of the project. "They are far better biochemists than humans are or possibly will ever be. Now we have a reference database that brings all this essential information together in one place."

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Contact: Sue Rhee
rhee@acoma.stanford.edu
650-325-1521
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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