Further studies of the treasure trove of new SHR gene targets will aim at exploring the details of their functions using biochemical and genetic techniques, Benfey said. Also, the new findings will enable the researchers to begin to understand the complex network regulated by SHR.
"We think that SHORT-ROOT is part of a cascade of transcription factors, and that there are many intermediate steps before the end-stage differentiation of cells in tissues," he said. "We're now actively exploring those intermediate steps."
More broadly, the technique of meta-analysis -- used currently in epidemiological studies -- will find wider use in studying the development of organisms, Benfey said.
"To our knowledge, this is the first time this statistical technique has been used in a developmental context," he said. "It is much more powerful than simply comparing the results from different microarrays. And there is nothing in this technique that is specific to plants, meaning that it can be applied to analyze any organism."
Other co-authors on the paper are Hongchang Cui, Jean Wang, Keji Nakajima and Noritaka Matsumoto, who worked in the Benfey laboratory; Wolfgang Busch and Jan Lohmann of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology; and Hala Hassan and Ben Scheres of Utrecht University.
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Contact: Monte Basgall
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