A protocol for TILLING and Ecotilling in plants and animals

Nat Protoc. 2006;1(5):2465-77. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2006.329.


We describe Targeting-Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes (TILLING), a reverse-genetic strategy for the discovery and mapping of induced mutations. TILLING is suitable for essentially any organism that can be mutagenized. The TILLING procedure has also been adapted for the discovery and cataloguing of natural polymorphisms, a method called Ecotilling. To discover nucleotide changes within a particular gene, PCR is performed with gene-specific primers that are end-labeled with fluorescent molecules. After PCR, samples are denatured and annealed to form heteroduplexes between polymorphic DNA strands. Mismatched base pairs in these heteroduplexes are cleaved by digestion with a single-strand specific nuclease. The resulting products are size-fractionated using denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and visualized by fluorescence detection. The migration of cleaved products indicates the approximate location of nucleotide polymorphisms. Throughput is increased and costs are reduced by sample pooling, multi-well liquid handling and automated gel band mapping. Once genomic DNA samples have been obtained, pooled and arrayed, thousands of samples can be screened daily.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Fluorometry / methods
  • Genome, Plant
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Heteroduplex Analysis / methods
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymorphism, Genetic