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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: FUNCTIONAL GENOMICS OF AGRONOMIC TRAITS IN DEVELOPING SEED AND POLLEN IN MAIZE AND SORGHUM Project Number: 6615-21000-010-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 01, 2010
End Date: Jul 01, 2013

Objective:
1. Identify and analyze critical genes in sugar metabolism and their relationshp to sugar-hormone signaling during maize seed development, particularly in basal endosperm transfer cells. (NP 301, C4, PS 4B). 1a. Phytohormones and sugar profiles in developing seeds of maize. 1b. Identification of genes in sugar – hormone cross-talk in developing endosperm. 1c. Gene discovery in Basal Endosperm Transfer Layer: 1d. Develop physiological, biochemical, molecular and genetic information and resources that can be used to determine the genetic basis of fungal infection in corn. 2. Determine the bases for defective pollen biogensis, including aberrations in sugar-starch metabolism, associated with heat stress and cytoplasmic male steriligy in sorghum. (NP 301, C4, PS 4B).

Approach:
Developmental profiles of various phytohormones in developing seeds of normal (wild type) and several carbohydrate mutants of known genetic bases in maize will be developed using high throughput chemical approaches, including gas chromatography / mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Contemporary genomic approaches will be used to identify genes that are critical to sugar-hormone cross-talk, especially those related to hormone metabolism, transcription factors and proteins that function as receptors and/or response factors. Such genes in developing seeds will be further analyzed in expression studies using both microarray and single gene approaches to dissect gene networks that may control normal seed development and sink strength, the two most critical components of crop yields. Gene discovery studies based on transcriptome and proteome approaches will be initiated to obtain a functional genomic profile of the Basal Endosperm Transfer Layer (BETL), a highly specialized cell layer known be critical for transport and signaling functions in developing seeds. The emphasis in studying pollen biogenesis in sorghum is to understand the base for defective biochemical, molecular and physiological processes (including aberrations in sugar-starch metabolism) associated with heat stress and cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS). Profiles of differentially expressed genes that characterize the expression of CMS, the restoration of male fertility and heat-induced pollen inviability will be obtained and analyzed through contemporary transcriptome and proteome technologies. 1d. Novel maize peptides associated with pathogen attack will be identified through mining the maize genome sequence for homologs of the defense-regulating peptide AtPep1. Peptides will be biochemically isolated and/or synthesized and applied to manipulate and probe mechanisms of maize defense responses. Genes induced by biotic attack or peptide treatment will be identified through microarray experiments and expression patterns will be characterized and quantified through real-time PCR analysis. Chemical defenses and metabolites induced by biotic attack and/or peptide treatment will be characterized and measured by HPLC, LC-MS, GC-MS and NMR. Differences in gene expression or defense metabolite accumulation in different maize varieties will be assessed using resistant versus susceptible cultivars. The effects of peptide-induced defenses on invading organisms will be assessed through in vivo pathogenicity assays, and in vitro antimicrobial assays. Assays of in vivo and in vitro effects of maize defense responses on mycotoxin production will also be examined through LC-MS and GC-MS. Transgenic plants with knocked out or enhanced expression of candidate signaling genes will be used to delineate signaling mechanisms regulating defense responses to biotic stress.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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