Plant Networks as Traits and Hypotheses: Moving Beyond Description

Amy Marshall-Colón, Daniel J. Kliebenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Biology relies on the central thesis that the genes in an organism encode molecular mechanisms that combine with stimuli and raw materials from the environment to create a final phenotypic expression representative of the genomic programming. While conceptually simple, the genotype-to-phenotype linkage in a eukaryotic organism relies on the interactions of thousands of genes and an environment with a potentially unknowable level of complexity. Modern biology has moved to the use of networks in systems biology to try to simplify this complexity to decode how an organism's genome works. Previously, biological networks were basic ways to organize, simplify, and analyze data. However, recent advances are allowing networks to move beyond description and become phenotypes or hypotheses in their own right. This review discusses these efforts, like mapping responses across biological scales, including relationships among cellular entities, and the direct use of networks as traits or hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)840-852
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • causality
  • eigengene
  • hypothesis
  • network trait
  • time course
  • visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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