Although the Arabidopsis and rice genomes have been sequenced, the complex gene-to-metabolite networks that produce what we know as these plants have been difficult to discern. In the June 15 PNAS, Masami Hirai and colleagues report a solution that involves mathematically combining transcriptomics and metabolomics, thus allowing the analysis of sulfur and nitrogen gene-to-metabolite networks in Arabidopsis.

"Understanding… network behavior through a combination of analytical and mathematical approaches has great potential for deepening our understanding of metabolic regulation," said Alisdair Fernie, from the Max Planck Institute, Golm, Germany, who was not involved the study.

After 10 years of studying sulfur metabolism at the individual gene and enzyme levels, Kazuki Saito, from Chiba University in Japan and senior author of the new study, said that he realized this approach was not sufficient to understand global network responses in plants. "In the post-genome era, drawing a holistic picture of cellular process...

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