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Systems approaches towards understanding temperature signalling in plants

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Plants are sessile, and must therefore adapt their growth and development to their environment. A major environmental variable is ambient temperature. Annual variations in temperature provide plants with important seasonal information, and 24 h temperature cycles are important for entraining the circadian clock. Temperature extremes are also a major threat to crop yield, with yields decreasing about 10 % for every 1 ÂșC increase in mean temperature.

Despite the importance and interest of temperature signalling in plants, very little is known about the underlying mechanisms by which temperature is sensed and how this information is integrated into development. To address this question, our laboratory has adopted a variety of forward and reverse genetic approaches to identify key nodes in the temperature perception pathways. These have revealed an important connection between chromatin status and temperature signalling. Because temperature has global scale effects on a large proportion of the transcriptome, this problem is ideally suited to being addressed with systems biology approaches. Recent advances in high throughput sequencing now provide tools to dynamically assay the behavior of transcription factors, chromatin, resulting transcripts as well as translational efficiency genome-wide. I will outline some of our progress in this area as well as topics that are currently under study and would make good MPhil projects.

Reading: Wigge PA (2013) Curr Opin Plant Biol. 16:661-6 Ambient temperature signalling in plants.

This talk is part of the Computational and Systems Biology series.

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