PI: Cynthia Weinig (University of Wyoming)
CoPIs: Sanjoy Das (Kansas State University), Julin N. Maloof (University of California - Davis), C. Robertson McClung (Dartmouth College), Stephen M. Welch (Kansas State University)
Key Collaborators: Doina Carragea and Gerard Kluitenberg (Kansas State University), and Paula X. Kover [University of Manchester (United Kingdom)
The research will examine plant responses to vegetation density, which are commonly referred to as "shade-avoidance" and which greatly affect yield in crop species. Two plant species, Brassica rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana, are used in this research as models for developing computational approaches that will enable both reconstruction of gene networks that regulate density responses and prediction of different traits (such as flowering time, height, and fruit set) from complex genotypes. Data collection will include 1) quantifying the developmental, morphological, and transcriptional responses of experimental genetic material (such as mutants and segregating progeny) to realistic density treatments and controlled manipulations of light quality indicative of high- and low-density; and 2) recording near-plant environmental conditions in the field, including soil and atmospheric variables, and incident spectra at 15-min intervals. Field studies will provide an agroecologically relevant picture of gene function. In modeling, the project will integrate genetic and environmental data to generate a more complete gene network than is possible from mutant or laboratory studies alone. Finally, because yield and other phenotypes serve as model outputs, the computational approaches will enable the prediction of diverse traits from plant genotypes.
The project will 1) develop evolutionary genetics modules to educate teachers on evolutionary theory and basic molecular genetic approaches and 2) provide seed "kits" to be used in age-appropriate, inquiry-based exercises. Approximately 75 teachers will be hosted annually in Wyoming, and this educational outreach should ultimately reach between 60-70% of all biology teachers in the state. As a further outreach component, the computational technology to be used involves a network of computing volunteers. Via the project website, this network provides another venue to distribute educational materials. Finally, long-term, high-sampling-rate time series of incident irradiance spectra are extremely rare but of interest to communities ranging from plant scientists to solar energy researchers. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will web-deliver the wide-band spectral measurements made as part of this research. DNA sequence and gene expression information will be deposited in the NCBI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) SRA and GEO databases.
PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH
Brock, M. T., P. X. Kover, and C. Weinig. "Natural variation in GA1 associates with floral morphology in Arabidopsis thaliana.," New Phytologist, v.195, 2012, p. 58.
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