Exploiting the Brachypodium Tool Box in cereal and grass research


Author for correspondence:
Luis A. J. Mur
Tel: +44 (0)1970 622981
Email: lum@aber.ac.uk



II.A challenge for the Brachypodium Tool Box: the legacy of cereal domestication335
III.Opening the Brachypodium Tool Box: what is Brachypodium?336
IV.The Brachypodium Tool Box: where are we now?337
V.Targets for the Brachypodium Tool Box: key traits342
VI.Whence for the Brachypodium Tool box? Primus inter pares?344


It is now a decade since Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) was suggested as a model species for temperate grasses and cereals. Since then transformation protocols, large expressed sequence tag (EST) databases, tools for forward and reverse genetic screens, highly refined cytogenetic probes, germplasm collections and, recently, a complete genome sequence have been generated. In this review, we will describe the current status of the Brachypodium Tool Box and how it is beginning to be applied to study a range of biological traits. Further, as genomic analysis of larger cereals and forage grasses genomes are becoming easier, we will re-evaluate Brachypodium as a model species. We suggest that there remains an urgent need to employ reverse genetic and functional genomic approaches to identify the functionality of key genetic elements, which could be employed subsequently in plant breeding programmes; and a requirement for a Pooideae reference genome to aid assembling large pooid genomes. Brachypodium is an ideal system for functional genomic studies, because of its easy growth requirements, small physical stature, and rapid life cycle, coupled with the resources offered by the Brachypodium Tool Box.