Plant Molecular Biology and Genetics Lab

Plant Molecular Biology and Genetics Lab

We have been conducting research focused on understanding the biotic and abiotic stress response mechanisms and identification of related genes and proteins in modern wheat and its wild relatives, commercially significant turfgrass species, and model plant such as Brachypodium distachyon. These research have included organellar genome comparisons, microarray-based transcriptome analysis, and chromosome- and genome scale physical mapping and sequencing. Seqeuncing work form a basis for identification of novel protein-coding genes and microRNAs involved in these processes. We have developed tools for the identification of microRNA sequences and their target genes within large genomic datasets. Molecular biology techniques are used to further study sequences of interest, encompassing both their primary function and regulation of their expression. Gene transmission and silencing (i.e., Virus Induced Gene Silencing) and biodiversity in plants are also investigated using DNA-RNA fingerprinting and comparative genome analysis. We are part of the international consortium that produced the complete genome sequence of Brachypodium distachyon, an important model species for the Triticeae, and is also a coordinating member of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC; http://www.wheatgenome.org/). Under the umbrella of the IWGSC, we produced the physical map of the long arm of bread wheat chromosome 1A, and similar research is currently underway for chromosome 5D. In parallel and complementary to these studies, we have also characterized BAC-end sequences and whole-chromosome shotgun sequences to elucidate structural and functional features of these wheat chromosomes. Genomic analyses of wild relatives and diploid progenitor species of bread wheat are being used to further dissect its genetic and functional genomics features. Since 2013, development of this group will include expanding the diversity and range of genomic studies undertaken, e.g. by incorporating Sequence Capture technology into our sequencing workflow to facilitate targeted genomic studies, and by developing array and/or sequencing based SNP identification and genotyping approaches. Species of the Triticeae family represent some of the largest, most complex and repetitive genomes being addressed by current research, so the techniques that are proving to be effective for understanding these genomes are also widely applicable to genomic questions across all biological fields.

Basic molecular biology equipment such as microcentrifuges, high-speed andultracentrifuges, incubators and shakers, PCR machines, spectrophotometers, electroporator, Real Time PCR,horizontal and vertical electrophoresis systems, gel documentation system,hybridization oven, and biological safety cabinets are used in the labwithin the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, alongwith specialized equipment for plant molecular biology and genetics suchas an AFLP analyzer, and Biolistic Particle Delivery System. Additionally,a 454 GS FLX Genome Sequencer, DNA Microarray Hybridization and Scanning systemsare available and are used in our studies at SUNUM.

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