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Our current main activities fall into four categories:

First, we are continuing to refine our database to facilitate accurate sample tracking and capture of phenotypic data. This includes defining controlled vocabulary for traits, photographic image capture and import of quantitative data from a variety of analytical instruments. Development of data analysis methods will become increasingly important during the second half of 2006.

Second, this summer we are working hard to establish the phenotypic analysis pipeline. This involves growing two lines per allele, harvesting seed from each line and using these seeds to measure a variety of phenotypes:

  • Seed: morphology, amino acid content, carbon/nitrogen ratio, starch.
  • Leaf: Plant are grown under controlled environment conditions and we are assaying plant morphology, chloroplast morphology, amino acid content; starch content at the beginning and end of the day, amount of chloroplast and endomembrane lipids and the fatty acid profiles of these lipids.

This summer, some of the remaining phenotypic screens to be used in the project are being configured or refined based upon the data being accumulated.

Third, we are developing methods for mapping metabolic fluxes in developing Arabidopsis seeds. This includes the establishment of in vitro culture conditions that mimic the environment in the plant and that support the normal growth and development of embryos. In parallel, computer-aided modeling is being used to optimize the information contents of the labeling experiments that will be used to characterize mutant lines. Furthermore we are establishing the computational tools for handling large data sets from labeling experiments on a large number of mutant lines.

Fourth, structural informatics approaches are being refined to create efficient methods for predicting the 3-dimensional structures of our target proteins, and thus create hypotheses regarding their function.