Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: March 23, 2009
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
Citation: Vance, C.P. 2009. Application of plant genomics for improved symbiotic nitrogen fixation in plants. In: Emerich, D.W., Krishnan, H.B., editors. Nitrogen Fixation in Crop Production. Agronomy Monograph 52. Madison, WI: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America. p. 239-264. Technical Abstract: Because genome sequencing, transcript profiling, proteome analysis, metabolite profiling, mutant analysis, and comparative genomics have progressed at a logarithmic pace, we know more about the plant genes involved in symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) than could have been imagined a decade ago. However, we have only scratched the surface of a systems understanding of the process. In addition, little SNF genomics information has been translated into improvement of legume crops. We are currently challenged in integrating genomics information into coherent molecular biochemical models that define how to improve SNF. A long-standing goal of plant genomics, beyond a fundamental understanding of gene action and control, has been to use the information gleaned through genomic research into crop yield and quality gains. Although a wide array of single gene traits have been improved through molecular approaches, that list is much smaller for quantitative trait loci (QTLs) such as SNF. However, in recent years combined genomic approaches have revealed that some traits thought to be controlled by QTLs are defined predominantly by single genes. For example, sugar yield in tomatoes, grain productivity in rice, and carotenoids in maize. Definition of these complex traits required collaborations and integration between geneticists, biochemists, physiologists, bioinformaticians, agronomists, and plant breeders. The gen-, prote-, metabol-, transcript-omics umbrella is large and interdisciplinary and it will give illuminating insights into legume crop production and SNF. To achieve this perspicacity and improve human well-being through food security will require exceptional communication as well as exceptional science.