Researchers at the University of Bonn and their colleagues at Iowa State University and the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tbingen compared gene activity in roots of young homozygous and hybrid corn plants. Transcripts provide the blueprints for important proteins. If a certain protein is required, a copy of the corresponding gene is made from the DNA in the nucleus of the cell. This copy of the gene a 'transcript' is used as a blueprint for producing the relevant protein. "Transcripts are present whenever the corresponding gene is active," explains Prof. Hochholdinger. Researchers are now surveying all transcripts present in the cell to know which genes are active.
Researchers doing detective work
"Our methods are similar to those of a crime scene investigator. We try matching transcripts the 'fingerprints' to the corresponding genes the criminal records" says Prof. Hochholdinger. If a fingerprint is found, then it proves that the corresponding gene is active. "It's just like a fingerprint found at a crime scene," the biologist explains, "The investigators then know which individual must have been active on the scene." High-throughput automatic sequencing machines at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tbingen helped to identify the gene transcripts. "Of the 39,656 known corn genes, close to 90% were active in the studied plants," reports Dr. Paschold.
A few hundred additional genes are active in hybrid plants
However, it has been demonstrated that in hybrids several hundred additional genes were active compared to the homozygous parental lines. The same number of genes is inherited from the two parental plants, however, their activity can differ in the mother and father plant. In hybrids, these different activities are combined. "Compared to the approximately 34,000 active genes the number of 350 to 750 genes that are additionally activated in hybrids
|Contact: Prof. Dr. Frank Hochholdinger|
University of Bonn