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 Full Stream Name: Bioprospecting 2.0 

Principal Investigator: Andy Ellington & Jennifer Brodbelt

Research Educator: TBA

 BioProspecting Research Overview

When subjected to stress (attack by pathogens, sudden changes in environment, exposure to toxic chemicals, nutrient deficiency), plants launch responses that modulate gene regulation and differentiation, posttranslational modifications, and gene splicing, all leading to various functional outcomes. 

Transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics provide a means to profile molecular signatures of a plant’s response to stress.  

Comparative transcriptomics (RNA sequencing, RNA-seq) relies on the ability to decipher differentially expressed genes based on all transcripts (mRNA, ncRNA, small RNAs), determination of the 5’ and 3’ end sites of the genome, and profiling transcriptional modifications and splicing.  In particular, transcriptomics with hierarchical cluster analysis reveals insight into how gene expression is modulated in response to stress.  

Mass spectrometry-based proteomics reveals variations of protein expression encoded by an organism. In a manner parallel to classification enabled by transcriptomics, proteins are categorized based on function, such as metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids, or genetic information processing.  

Metabolomics is one of the newest mass spectrometry-based ‘omics strategies developed in the realm of functional genomics. This approach entails the non‐targeted identification and quantification of the metabolome consisting of low‐molecular‐weight metabolites present in cells for a set of physiological conditions.  In many ways it is the metabolome that offers the most direct insight into the genotype as the metabolome is regulated by and thus represents the functional outcome of gene expression as well as post-transcriptional and post-translational events. In addition, metabolomic variations are frequently magnified compared to changes in the transcriptome or proteome.   

Combining transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics offers a powerful and holistic strategy to dissect and elucidate key pathways and secondary metabolites that comprise the stress response of an organism. 

In BioProspecting, we will explore the measurement of transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome in response to various stressors of two common plants, Arabidopsis & Nicotiana (tobacco)!

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Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Pre-Med