The use of mutants and transgenic plants to study amino acid metabolism


P. J. Lea, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Lancaster, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK.


Mutants of higher plants with alterations in amino acid metabolism have now been available for 20 years. Following the realization that at least four distinct classes of herbicides (phosphinothricins, glyphosates, imidazolinones and sulphonylureas) act by the inhibition of amino acid biosynthesis, mutants resistant to the herbicides have also been obtained. More recently, transgenic plants containing altered levels of enzymes of amino acid biosynthesis have been constructed. In this article, we have attempted to review several areas of amino acid biosynthesis including ammonia assimilation, the aspartate pathway, branched chain amino acids, aromatic amino acids and proline.