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Curr Genomics. 2008 Jun;9(4):212-26. doi: 10.2174/138920208784533656.

Application of TILLING and EcoTILLING as Reverse Genetic Approaches to Elucidate the Function of Genes in Plants and Animals.

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USDA-ARS, Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit (PGRCU), 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, GA 30223, USA.


With the fairly recent advent of inexpensive, rapid sequencing technologies that continue to improve sequencing efficiency and accuracy, many species of animals, plants, and microbes have annotated genomic information publicly available. The focus on genomics has thus been shifting from the collection of whole sequenced genomes to the study of functional genomics. Reverse genetic approaches have been used for many years to advance from sequence data to the resulting phenotype in an effort to deduce the function of a gene in the species of interest. Many of the currently used approaches (RNAi, gene knockout, site-directed mutagenesis, transposon tagging) rely on the creation of transgenic material, the development of which is not always feasible for many plant or animal species. TILLING is a non-transgenic reverse genetics approach that is applicable to all animal and plant species which can be mutagenized, regardless of its mating / pollinating system, ploidy level, or genome size. This approach requires prior DNA sequence information and takes advantage of a mismatch endonuclease to locate and detect induced mutations. Ultimately, it can provide an allelic series of silent, missense, nonsense, and splice site mutations to examine the effect of various mutations in a gene. TILLING has proven to be a practical, efficient, and an effective approach for functional genomic studies in numerous plant and animal species. EcoTILLING, which is a variant of TILLING, examines natural genetic variation in populations and has been successfully utilized in animals and plants to discover SNPs including rare ones. In this review, TILLING and EcoTILLING techniques, beneficial applications and limitations from plant and animal studies are discussed.


EcoTILLING (Ecotype TILLING); Reverse genetics; SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism); TILLING (target induced local lesions in genomes); functional genomics; genetic stocks.; sequencing

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