Chemical genomics is relatively new to plant biology in academia; however, the ability of this approach to present novel discoveries is being demonstrated clearly. One particularly suitable application of this approach is plant endomembrane trafficking. The rapid and dynamic nature of vesicular trafficking plus genetic redundancy has hampered effective study of this complex network. The ability of small molecules to act quickly to inhibit or arrest vesicular trafficking should permit the association of specific vesicles, especially endosome compartments, with their cargoes, particularly those destined for the plasma membrane. This approach and the large target space presented by the endomembrane trafficking network require the discovery of many new bioactive molecules. Advances in high-throughput chemical screening in plants are making this a reality. However, successful chemical genomic approaches in plants must be coupled with improvements in automated microscopy, image analysis, and target identification. In addition, the ability to correlate specific molecules with complex phenotypic data will be crucial. The data obtained from these experiments will be composed of a matrix of intracellular markers displaying complex chemically induced phenotypes as well as whole plant and perhaps data generated by genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. In this manner, it should be possible to view endomembrane trafficking and its interactions as a systems-based network.
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