Monday, February 25, 2008

IRRI Paper: "Toward Systems Biology of Rice," (J. Sheey, A. Ferrer, K. Tan, and F. Danilla), Feb. 26, 2008, Ateneo de Manila University

[W1]: Biological Systems Analysis: Crop and individual plant properties in the context of engineering C4 rice.

John Sheehy A. B. Ferrer, K.G. Tan, and F. Danila (International Rice Research Institute, Philippines)


A system can be defined as a number of interacting elements existing within a boundary which is surrounded by an environment. Biological systems are hierarchical in the sense that they can be described at different levels of detail stretching from molecular to organismal. The success of an operation at any level depends on the successful integration of processes at the lower levels. However, it is important to bear in mind that when the system is viewed as a whole, it is expected that the whole delivers more than the simple sum of its parts. The nature of the emergent properties of the product determine the value added to the inputs and ultimately the efficiency of the system. Progress in understanding the behavior of complex natural systems begins with observations at the whole system level and a top down approach is necessary to guarantee significant achievements from genetic engineering of plants to enhance yields. The success of biological systems depends on control mechanisms that are often ill understood. There needs to be an increased awareness of plasticity: the properties of plants that change when plants are grown as individuals or as members of plant communities. For example, changes in specific leaf area and photosynthesis that occur when individual plants become members of a dense community can be overlooked by those operating at a molecular level. Success in producing a C4 rice plant will depend on targeting the genes controlling several key characteristics of leaves that retain their efficacy, are not plastic, regardless of the plant’s environment.

No comments: