The aim of this project is to study the global changes of gene expression controlling the growth processes (cell division and cell expansion) of maize leaves in response to water-stress with a specific focus on the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and redox homeostasis. Using Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, the results will serve to:
i) construct a physical map of gene expression of maize leaves;
ii) test the hypothesis that ROS are major players in the observed leaf growth inhibition under water stress;
iii) contribute to the building of a model of the gene regulatory networks responsible for the coordination of cell cycle and cell expansion under non-limiting growth condition and in response to the environmental perturbation;
iv) enhance the knowledge of maize gene function through the comparison with gene databases of model species (rice, Arabidopsis thaliana), whose sequencing has been completed.
To achieve this, an analysis of transcript profiles (microarrays) under control and water-stress conditions will be combined with a detailed spatial and temporal framework provided by a kinematic analysis of leaf growth, with cell cycle molecular status, and with ROS and antioxidants profiles along growing leaves. These will constitute the principal data inputs to the model and will be integrated with public domain (gene and protein) expression data and with maps of metabolic pathways to help establishing causal relationships within the regulatory network.
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