Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: January 10, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The application of molecular genetics to the study of plant secondary metabolic pathways has greatly enhanced our knowledge of the elements and mechanisms responsible for the biosynthesis of medicinally and economically important phytochemicals. Numerous plant genes encoding enzymes of secondary metabolism have been identified following the purification of the corresponding enzymes. Although highly successful, these efforts have suffered from the difficulties associated with developing convenient enzyme assays and protein purification protocols, as well as from the limitations of the techniques available for monitoring gene expression. The increasing use of automated DNA sequencers has resulted in the elucidation of large numbers of nucleotide sequences, the majority of which have no known function. New technologies are being developed, which make it possible to study the expression of thousands of genes simultaneously. DNA microarrays offer the possibility to correlate the expression of a large number of genes with the secondary-metabolite content of plant tissues. By thus analyzing the phenotypic consequences of gene expression, genes and regulatory mechanisms that affect the production of phytochemicals can be identified.