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Plant J. 2012 Apr;70(1):51-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2012.04913.x.

Glandular trichomes: what comes after expressed sequence tags?

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Department of Metabolic and Cell Biology, Leibniz-Institute of Plant Biochemistry, Weinberg 3, Halle (Saale), Germany.


Glandular trichomes cover the surface of many plant species. They exhibit tremendous diversity, be it in their shape or the compounds they secrete. This diversity is expressed between species but also within species or even individual plants. The industrial uses of some trichome secretions and their potential as a defense barrier, for example against arthropod pests, has spurred research into the biosynthesis pathways that lead to these specialized metabolites. Because complete biosynthesis pathways take place in the secretory cells, the establishment of trichome-specific expressed sequence tag libraries has greatly accelerated their elucidation. Glandular trichomes also have an important metabolic capacity and may be considered as true cell factories. To fully exploit the potential of glandular trichomes as breeding or engineering objects, several research areas will have to be further investigated, such as development, patterning, metabolic fluxes and transcription regulation. The purpose of this review is to provide an update on the methods and technologies which have been used to investigate glandular trichomes and to propose new avenues of research to deepen our understanding of these specialized structures.

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