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CORDIS

Climate adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana through evolution of transcription regulation

Project description

Changes in gene expression as a climate adaptation mechanism in plants

During evolution, the coding sequence of genes evolves slower than their expression patterns, therefore transcriptional regulation is critical for rapid adaptation to new environments. Understanding the adaptation mechanisms of plants is important in agriculture and in natural populations. Studying evolution-driven transcriptome changes that allow plants to adapt to new climates and ecological niches requires a large amount of natural variability information. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the TxnEvoClim project will use genomic and transcriptomic data from the Arabidopsis thaliana 1001 Genomes project, measurements of gene expression under water deprivation, and data on gene regulation and field fitness to understand how gene expression is shaped by climate and the genetic potential to adapt to new environments.

Objective

Differences in gene expression play a key role in generating the phenotypic variability needed for adaptation. During evolution, the coding sequence of genes evolves on average much slower than their expression patterns, thus transcriptional regulation can be especially important for rapid adaptation to new environments. Climate is a major factor for plant adaptation, and both the dispersal of a plant from its native origin as well as climate change will often lower its fitness. Thus, understanding how gene expression patterns are modified to facilitate life in adverse climates would shed light on the trade-offs limiting adaptation. Studying how evolution has shaped plant transcriptomes so that these plants can grow in different ecological niches and their potential to adapt to a changing climate requires a large base of natural variability information. This has recently been accumulated for Arabidopsis thaliana, a model for genetic and evolutionary studies. In the proposed project I will use genomic and transcriptomic data from the A. thaliana 1001 Genomes Project, new measurements of gene expression under water deprivation, as well as newly available data on gene-regulation and field fitness, to define how gene expression is shaped by climate and the genetic potential to adapt to new environments. I will address the following: (1) In natural populations, how do gene expression patterns of individuals correspond to the particular adapted climates? (2) What is the genetic basis for the transcript differences and how is it reflected in modifications to the transcriptional network? (3) Can knowledge of climate-transcript variation relationships be predictive of individual strains more likely to survive in a new climate? As climate is changing due to global warming, the understanding of mechanisms by which plants adapt to climate becomes even more important in agriculture and in natural populations, and this project aims to illuminate the role of a central mechanism.

Coordinator

GREGOR MENDEL INSTITUT FUR MOLEKULARE PFLANZENBIOLOGIE GMBH
Net EU contribution
€ 186 167,04
Address
DR BOHR GASSE 3
1030 Wien
Austria

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Region
Ostösterreich Wien Wien
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Links
Total cost
€ 186 167,04