Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Developmental dynamics of the maize leaf transcriptome

Date:
November 4, 2010
Source:
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
Summary:
How developing plants build and regulate their solar reactors is still poorly understood. How many genes are involved, and which are the most important? How are different cell types endowed with specific biochemical capacities? What signals fine-tune how much sugar is produced, and which bioproducts are generated? Complex and multifaceted questions such as these can be addressed using a new approach to measure gene expression using high throughput sequencing.

Photosynthesis is arguably the most impressive feat of nature, where plants harvest light energy and convert it into the building blocks of life at fantastically high efficiency. Indeed modern civilization became possible only with the cultivation of plants for food, shelter and clothing.

While scientists have been able to discover details of the fascinating process by which plants store solar energy as chemical energy, how developing plants build and regulate their solar reactors is still poorly understood. How many genes are involved, and which are the most important? How are different cell types endowed with specific biochemical capacities? What signals fine-tune how much sugar is produced, and which bioproducts are generated? The answers to these questions have applications in agriculture, bioenergy and climate change.

Complex and multifaceted questions such as these can be addressed using a new approach to measure gene expression using high throughput sequencing. This method, coined RNAseq, is detailed in a new report from scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) and Cornell University published online in the journal Nature Genetics. The study, using the agronomically critical maize (corn) plant as a model, tracks through massive sequencing of gene transcripts, the full complement of expressed genes in a corn leaf. The researchers found that as the leaf develops, entire suites of genes are turned on and off. "Previous studies have often focused on understanding one gene or set of genes that underpin a specific pathway or process," notes Tom Brutnell, an associate scientist at the BTI and the senior author of the study, "However, these new tools have let us examine the expression of all genes in the leaf at very specific stages of development. This provides an unprecedented view of the genetic circuitry of the leaf."

While such results are exciting, they also pose big challenges as scientists work to interpret the datasets. In this study, over 25,000 genes were found to be expressed in each leaf, and nearly half of these are transcribed into at least two different forms, called splicing variants. To make sense out of this flood of information, scientists at BTI, Cornell, Yale, Iowa State and the University of Toronto collaborated to develop systems biology tools that combine computational and statistical methods to analyze large datasets. "The interface between developmental biologists, molecular biologists, and computer scientists that made this work possible, is an excellent example of why systems biology is able to unravel complex biological pathways" commented David Stern, President of BTI.

An important aspect of this work is that it provides insight into the regulation of the unusual form of photosynthesis that maize utilizes referred to as C4 that increases water and nitrogen use efficiencies under hot dry environments. "Some of the most productive food, feed and bioenergy crops utilize C4 photosynthesis including maize, sugarcane and the bioenergy grass Miscanthus," notes Brutnell "This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of gene expression in any C4 plant and thus provides the groundwork for a genetic dissection of this process."

Given the economic importance of C4 plant in the United States and around the world, these findings have numerous potential applications to agriculture. Optimizing photosynthetic capacity could not only enhance the performance of maize, but also enable far-reaching transformations of photosynthesis in species which are currently far less efficient than maize, such as rice or wheat.

Co-authors included Pinghua Li, Lin Wang and Tesfamichael Kebrom, BTI postdoctoral researchers; Lalit Ponnala and Edwin Reidel, postdoctoral researchers at Cornell, Qi Sun and Chris Myers at Cornell's Computational Biology Service Unit, and Robert Turgeon in Plant Biology. Other colleagues included Yaqing Si and Peng Liu at Iowa State University, Neeru Gandotra, Lori Tausta and Tim Nelson at Yale University and Rohan Patel and Nick Provart at the University of Toronto.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pinghua Li, Lalit Ponnala, Neeru Gandotra, Lin Wang, Yaqing Si, S Lori Tausta, Tesfamichael H Kebrom, Nicholas Provart, Rohan Patel, Christopher R Myers, Edwin J Reidel, Robert Turgeon, Peng Liu, Qi Sun, Timothy Nelson, Thomas P Brutnell. The developmental dynamics of the maize leaf transcriptome. Nature Genetics, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/ng.703

Cite This Page:

Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. "Developmental dynamics of the maize leaf transcriptome." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103135249.htm>.
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. (2010, November 4). Developmental dynamics of the maize leaf transcriptome. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103135249.htm
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. "Developmental dynamics of the maize leaf transcriptome." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103135249.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) A fox attacked a second-grade boy at a Connecticut elementary school Monday. It also attacked two school staff members and a woman and her dog. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A white tiger killed a young man who climbed over a fence at the New Delhi zoo and jumped into the animal's enclosure on Tuesday, a spokesman said. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins