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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2001 Apr;4(2):111-7.

Arabidopsis gene knockout: phenotypes wanted.

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INRA, Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire, Route de Saint Cyr, 78026, Versailles, France.


Gene knockout is considered to be a major component of the functional genomics toolbox, and is aimed at revealing the function of genes discovered through large-scale sequencing programs. In the past few years, several Arabidopsis populations mutagenized with insertion elements, such as the T-DNA of Agrobacterium or transposons, have been produced. These large populations are routinely screened for insertions into specific genes, allowing mass-isolation of knockout lines. Although many Arabidopsis knockouts have already been obtained, few of them have been reported to present informative phenotypes that provide a direct clue to gene function. Although functional redundancy explains the lack of phenotypical alterations in some cases, it also appears that many mutations are conditional and/or do not alter plant morphology even in the presence of severe physiological defects. Consequently, gene knockout per se is not sufficient to assess gene function and must be integrated into a more global approach for determining biological functions.

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