Translational biology

A translational Research Platform, to engineer new plant prototypes

Over the last two decades, knowledge about plant growth, development and the molecular compositions of plant organs has increased tremendously. The genes that control the function of the biological mechanisms involved are in many cases identified and well characterized. Unfortunately, development of technologies to manipulate such genes in crop genomes did not match that progress.
To bridge the gap between structural genomics and functional genomics in crop plants, we focused our effort on the development of two complementary reverse genetics tools, TILLING and ECOTILLING. TILLING is based on production of EMS-mutagenised plant collections and rapid systematic identification of mutations in target sequences. ECOTILLING is based on the analysis of germplasm collections to identify natural alleles of a given gene.
Four distinct research areas were at the core of our project:

  • The production and management of large EMS mutant collections
  • The development of HTP tools for rapid and systematic identification of mutations
  • The selection target genes of agronomic importance to be TILLED in each crop
  • The creation of interactive and evolving databases

Today, the TILLING platform has developed more than 14 mutant collections in 8 crop species and 5 core collections in 4 species.

To manage and integrate the data from both the phenotype recordings and TILLING platform, we implemented the database UTILLdb . Two main types of data are accessible, sequences of tilled genes and the corresponding alleles and when available, the morphological phenotypes of the mutants