Leaf phenomics: a systematic reverse genetic screen for Arabidopsis leaf mutants



The study and eventual manipulation of leaf development in plants requires a thorough understanding of the genetic basis of leaf organogenesis. Forward genetic screens have identified hundreds of Arabidopsis mutants with altered leaf development, but the genome has not yet been saturated. To identify genes required for leaf development we are screening the Arabidopsis Salk Unimutant collection. We have identified 608 lines that exhibit a leaf phenotype with full penetrance and almost constant expressivity and 98 additional lines with segregating mutant phenotypes. To allow indexing and integration with other mutants, the mutant phenotypes were described using a custom leaf phenotype ontology. We found that the indexed mutation is present in the annotated locus for 78% of the 553 mutants genotyped, and that in half of these the annotated T-DNA is responsible for the phenotype. To quickly map non-annotated T-DNA insertions, we developed a reliable, cost-effective and easy method based on whole-genome sequencing. To enable comprehensive access to our data, we implemented a public web application named PhenoLeaf (http://genetics.umh.es/phenoleaf) that allows researchers to query the results of our screen, including text and visual phenotype information. We demonstrated how this new resource can facilitate gene function discovery by identifying and characterizing At1g77600, which we found to be required for proximal–distal cell cycle-driven leaf growth, and At3g62870, which encodes a ribosomal protein needed for cell proliferation and chloroplast function. This collection provides a valuable tool for the study of leaf development, characterization of biomass feedstocks and examination of other traits in this fundamental photosynthetic organ.