Frenkel M, Johansson Jänkänpää H, Moen J, Jansson S
An illustrated gardener's guide to transgenic Arabidopsis field experiments
New Phytologist: 2008, on line

  • Field studies with transgenic Arabidopsis lines have been performed over 8 yr, to better understand the influence that certain genes have on plant performance. Many (if not most) plant phenotypes cannot be observed under the near constant, low-stress conditions in growth chambers, making field experiments necessary. However, there are challenges in performing such experiments: permission must be obtained and regulations obeyed, the profound influence of uncontrollable biotic and abiotic factors has to be considered, and experimental design has to be strictly controlled.

  • The aim here is to provide inspiration and guidelines for researchers who are not used to setting up such experiments, allowing others to learn from our mistakes.
  •  This is believed to be the first example of a 'manual' for field experiments with transgenic Arabidopsis plants. Many of the challenges encountered are common for all field experiments, and many researchers from ecological backgrounds are skilled in such methods.

  • There is huge potential in combining the detailed mechanistic understanding of molecular biologists with ecologists' expertise in examining plant performance under field conditions, and it is suggested that more interdisciplinary collaborations will open up new scientific avenues to aid analyses of the roles of genetic and physiological variation in natural systems.

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