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The developmental dynamics of the maize leaf transcriptome
Date:11/3/2010

k 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.


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Contact: Thomas Brutnell
TPB8@cornell.edu
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
Source:Eurekalert

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