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Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 6 (2005), Issue 4, Pages 230-235
Conference Paper

Xenogenomics: Genomic Bioprospecting in Indigenous and Exotic Plants Through EST Discovery, cDNA Microarray-Based Expression Profiling and Functional Genomics

Plant Biotechnology Centre, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, Victorian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, Primary Industries Research Victoria, La Trobe University, Victoria, Bundoora 3086, Australia

Received 2 February 2005; Accepted 15 March 2005

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To date, the overwhelming majority of genomics programs in plants have been directed at model or crop plant species, meaning that very little of the naturally occurring sequence diversity found in plants is available for characterization and exploitation. In contrast, ‘xenogenomics’ refers to the discovery and functional analysis of novel genes and alleles from indigenous and exotic species, permitting bioprospecting of biodiversity using high-throughput genomics experimental approaches. Such a program has been initiated to bioprospect for genetic determinants of abiotic stress tolerance in indigenous Australian flora and native Antarctic plants. Uniquely adapted Poaceae and Fabaceae species with enhanced tolerance to salt, drought, elevated soil aluminium concentration, and freezing stress have been identified, based primarily on their eco-physiology, and have been subjected to structural and functional genomics analyses. For each species, EST collections have been derived from plants subjected to appropriate abiotic stresses. Transcript profiling with spotted unigene cDNA micro-arrays has been used to identify genes that are transcriptionally modulated in response to abiotic stress. Candidate genes identified on the basis of sequence annotation or transcript profiling have been assayed in planta and other in vivo systems for their capacity to confer novel phenotypes. Comparative genomics analysis of novel genes and alleles identified in the xenogenomics target plant species has subsequently been undertaken with reference to key model and crop plants.