Understanding the functional connections between genes, proteins, metabolites and mineral ions is one of biology's greatest challenges in the postgenomic era. We describe here the use of mineral nutrient and trace element profiling as a tool to determine the biological significance of connections between a plant's genome and its elemental profile. Using inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy, we quantified 18 elements, including essential macro- and micronutrients and various nonessential elements, in shoots of 6,000 mutagenized M2 Arabidopsis thaliana plants. We isolated 51 mutants with altered elemental profiles. One mutant contains a deletion in FRD3, a gene known to control iron-deficiency responses in A. thaliana. Based on the frequency of elemental profile mutations, we estimate 2-4% of the A. thaliana genome is involved in regulating the plant's nutrient and trace element content. These results demonstrate the utility of elemental profiling as a useful functional genomics tool.
- functional genomics