Associate Professor, Hamline University
Maize or corn is a cereal crop that is grown widely throughout the world. More maize is produced annually than any other grain. Maize is the most important cereal crop in sub-Saharan Africa and an important staple food for more than a billion people in Africa and Latin America. Over 150 million hectares of maize are harvested worldwide with United States producing over 40% of the total. Maize is a thermophilic plant species and highly sensitive to low temperature at all stages of development. Understanding how maize plants respond to cold and other abiotic stresses and discovering genes responsible for cold tolerance is important for developing novel cold tolerant maize varieties. With the changing climate, maize varieties that could germinate under colder temperatures and could withstand shot periods of cold weather early in the spring may truly make a difference for such an economically important crop as maize.
I am interested in investigating variation in gene expression levels in maize seedlings in response to stress. I hope to find genes that exhibit allelic variation in response to cold, such as genes that respond to cold in some maize inbreds and do not respond to cold in other maize inbreds. Comparing alleles with differential responsiveness to cold will shed light on the molecular mechanisms of cold response and allow identifying sequence elements controlling gene regulation in response to cold stress. Bringing research projects to large undergraduate courses has been a passion of mine for last several years. Investigating maize response to cold together with students in genetics and genomics courses and students from Hamline summer collaborative research program will definitely be a lot of fun!
Fourteen-day old maize seedlings from B73 and Mo17 genetic backgrounds were grown at 24°C exposed to 16 hours of 7°C or 2 hours of 55°C or continuously grown under control conditions. Tissue from the third leaf was pooled from eight plants per replicate / per genotype / per condition. We are interested in adding RNA-Seq data for a time series of cold stress as well as data for stress response from “primed” plants, plants exposed to prior less severe stress at an earlier time during development.
The maize abiotic stress RNA-Seq dataset is designed to test for variation in transcriptional response to abiotic stress.
These data were published: Transposable Elements Contribute to Activation of Maize Genes in Response to Abiotic Stress (Download PDF)
|Zea mays transcriptome and gene expression in response to abiotic stresses; heat, cold, salt and UV||SRA Bioproject|
Principles of Genetics is an introductory genetics course (taught with a Lab) with about 100 students from various majors. Students will spend three–four weeks learning RNA-Seq approaches, formulating and testing their hypotheses about genome transcriptional response to abiotic stress.
Genomics and Bioinformatics is an upper-level course (taught with a computer Lab) with about 20 students majoring in Biology. Students will spend the whole semester performing the whole pipeline of RNA-Seq data analysis, selecting interesting genes, designing primers and conducting follow-up qPCR reactions.