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Comp Funct Genomics. 2003;4(2):216-24. doi: 10.1002/cfg.277.

Emerging use of gene expression microarrays in plant physiology.

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Environmental Sciences Division Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge TN TN 37831-6422 USA.


Microarrays have become an important technology for the global analysis of gene expression in humans, animals, plants, and microbes. Implemented in the context of a well-designed experiment, cDNA and oligonucleotide arrays can provide highthroughput, simultaneous analysis of transcript abundance for hundreds, if not thousands, of genes. However, despite widespread acceptance, the use of microarrays as a tool to better understand processes of interest to the plant physiologist is still being explored. To help illustrate current uses of microarrays in the plant sciences, several case studies that we believe demonstrate the emerging application of gene expression arrays in plant physiology were selected from among the many posters and presentations at the 2003 Plant and Animal Genome XI Conference. Based on this survey, microarrays are being used to assess gene expression in plants exposed to the experimental manipulation of air temperature, soil water content and aluminium concentration in the root zone. Analysis often includes characterizing transcript profiles for multiple post-treatment sampling periods and categorizing genes with common patterns of response using hierarchical clustering techniques. In addition, microarrays are also providing insights into developmental changes in gene expression associated with fibre and root elongation in cotton and maize, respectively. Technical and analytical limitations of microarrays are discussed and projects attempting to advance areas of microarray design and data analysis are highlighted. Finally, although much work remains, we conclude that microarrays are a valuable tool for the plant physiologist interested in the characterization and identification of individual genes and gene families with potential application in the fields of agriculture, horticulture and forestry.

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