Genome-wide prediction of metabolic enzymes, pathways and gene clusters in plants

A considerable knowledge gap remains between the plant genome and the plant metabolome. To address this, Schläpfer et al. have developed a computational pipeline to identify metabolic enzymes, pathways, and gene clusters. Although metabolic genes are known to cluster in bacteria and fungi, until recently this phenomenon was not known to be widespread in plants. However, in just 18 species, the authors identified nearly 12,000 metabolic gene clusters. Many of these clusters include enzymes that produce a metabolite scaffold and enzymes that modify it. Their data also suggest that local gene duplication has contributed to the diversification of metabolic gene clusters. All the data can be browsed online at www.plantcyc.org. As the authors state, these tools can be used for “systematically cataloging the chemical diversity of plants and revealing Nature’s pharmacopeia in the green world.”  Plant Physiol. 10.​1104/​pp.​16.​01942