Systems-integration of plant metabolism: means, motive and opportunity

System integration of metabolism is considered in analogy to the investigation of corporate misdemeanour. Motive, or goal-oriented explanation, provides hypotheses that can guide the investigation of network structure. Opportunity can be established by correlative analysis using large-scale omics resources. However, correlative approaches on their own remain inconclusive and seldom identify all the links in a network. Establishment of means, or the ability to act on other network components and contribute to a phenotype, is therefore crucial. This requires functional information. Integration of quantitative data in the context of pathway models provides a powerful approach to establish ‘means’. This is illustrated by discussing: first, how protein abundance is regulated by a network including transcript abundance, translation and protein degradation and second, how a combination of experimentation and modelling provides information about pathway flux, an emergent network property that integrates changes in proteins and metabolites and determines composition and biomass.

Mark Stitt

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2013 May 1.