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Plant Methods. 2011 Jun 30;7:19. doi: 10.1186/1746-4811-7-19.

A novel procedure for the quantitative analysis of metabolites, storage products and transcripts of laser microdissected seed tissues of Brassica napus.

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  • 1Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Corrensstr, 3, 06466 Gatersleben, Germany.



The biology of the seed is complicated by the extensive non-homogeneity (spatial gradients) in gene expression, metabolic conversions and storage product accumulation. The detailed understanding of the mechanisms underlying seed growth and storage therefore requires the development of means to obtain tissue-specific analyses. This approach also represents an important priority in the context of seed biotechnology.


We provide a guideline and detailed procedures towards the quantitative analysis of laser micro-dissected (LM) tissues in oilseed rape (Brassica napus). This includes protocols for laser microdissection of the seed, and the subsequent extraction and quantitative analysis of lipids, starch and metabolites (sugars, sugar phosphates, nucleotides, amino acids, intermediates of glycolysis and citric acid cycle). We have also developed a protocol allowing the parallel analysis of the transcriptome using Brassica-specific microarrays. Some data are presented regarding the compartmentation of metabolites within the oilseed rape embryo.


The described methodology allows for the rapid, combined analysis of metabolic intermediates, major storage products and transcripts in a tissue-specific manner. The protocols are robust for oilseed rape, and should be readily adjustable for other crop species. The suite of methods applied to LM tissues represents an important step in the context of both the systems biology and the biotechnology of oilseeds.

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