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Review
. 2015 Apr;66(8):2127-31.
doi: 10.1093/jxb/erv040. Epub 2015 Feb 24.

Should We Treat the Ionome as a Combination of Individual Elements, or Should We Be Deriving Novel Combined Traits?

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Free PMC article
Review

Should We Treat the Ionome as a Combination of Individual Elements, or Should We Be Deriving Novel Combined Traits?

Ivan Baxter. J Exp Bot. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

It has been more than 10 years since the concept of the ionome, all of the mineral nutrients in a cell tissue or organism, was introduced. In the intervening years, ionomics, high throughput elemental profiling, has been used to analyse over 400,000 samples from at least 10 different organisms. There are now multiple published examples where an ionomics approach has been used to find genes of novel function, find lines or environments that produce foods with altered nutritional profiles, or define gene by environmental effects on elemental accumulation. In almost all of these studies, the ionome has been treated as a collection of independent elements, with the analysis repeated on each measured element. However, many elements share chemical properties, are known to interact with each other, or have been shown to have similar interactions with biological molecules. Accordingly, there is strong evidence from ionomic studies that the elements of the ionome do not behave independently and that combinations of elements should be treated as the phenotypes of interest. In this review, I will consider the evidence that we have for the interdependence of the ionome, some of its causes, methods for incorporating this interdependence into analyses and the benefits, drawbacks, and challenges of taking these approaches.

Keywords: Elemental profiling; G×E; environment; genetics; ionomics; plant nutrition..

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Multi-element phenotype for the esb1-2 mutant. Boxplots showing the distributions of Z-scores (number of standard deviations from the Col-0 mean) from trays 1095 (black) and 1146 (grey) at www.ionomicshub.org (last accessed: 15 December 2014). Note that Na, K, Ca, Mn, Zn, As, and Se are different in both trays, while Mg and Fe are only different in tray 1146.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Mobile-and-fulcrums at mass equilibration point illustrates four hierarchically nested balances that represent a subcomposition or subspace of nutrients in the ionome. Fig. 1 from Parent et al. (2013a; The plant ionome revisited by the nutrient balance concept. Frontiers in Plant Science 4, 39, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00039).

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