Molecular TILLING and EcoTILLING: effective tools for mutant gene detection in plants
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Forward genetics has been responsible for our understanding of many biological processes and is an excellent method for identifying genes that function in a particular process. In reverse genetics, the functional study of a gene starts with the gene sequence rather than a mutant phenotype. Using various techniques, a gene's function is altered and the effect on the development and phenotypic traits of the plant is analysed. Reverse genetics is an important complement to forward genetics. For example, using reverse genetics, one can investigate the function of all genes in a gene family, something not easily done with forward genetics. Further, one can study the function of a gene found to be involved in a process of interest in another species, but for which no forward genetic mutants have yet been identified. Finally, the vast majority of genes have not yet been mutated in most plants and reverse genetics allows their study. The availability of complete genome sequences combined with reverse genetics can allow every gene to be studied. In this chapter we review the recent progress that has been made towards identifying induced point mutations and natural variation in different plants using the high throughput reverse genetics technologies, TILLING and EcoTILLING, and discuss the prospects of using these techniques in ornamentals.