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Detecting Nitrogen Responsive Genes for Improvement of Nitrogen Use Efficiency

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Title: Detecting Nitrogen Responsive Genes for Improvement of Nitrogen Use Efficiency
Author: Yingyu, Chen
Department: Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Program: Bioinformatics
Advisor: McNicholas, PaulRothstein, Steven
Abstract: A principal concern in crop agriculture is yield, and a key factor for crop growth is the availability of nitrogen. The large amount of nitrogen fertilizer required by plants is a major cost to farmers. Moreover, environmental issues such as groundwater pollution arise from the utilization of nitrogen fertilizers. Therefore, improvement in the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of plants is of urgent importance for sustainable and efficient agriculture. Although hybrid varieties have increased crop yields in low N conditions, the molecular mechanism of plant adaptation to N stress is not completely understood. Herein, the study of responses to N limitations in the natural signalling pathways of model plants facilitates the understanding of complex responses in plants to N stress, and this information can be used to further improve NUE. In this research, the transcriptomes of three model plants Arabidopsis, maize, and rice were compared under diverse N growth conditions. An evaluation of the response of the three plants to varying N levels was also conducted. From a statistical point of view, three distinct methods of detecting differential expression were utilized to reduce the likelihood of false positives due to the tens of thousands of genes simultaneously studied. Furthermore, the performance of three statistical approaches was compared during detection of the N-responsive genes. Finally, a clustering analysis (agglomerative hierarchical clustering) was performed on the genes that significantly responded to N levels as identified by a more biologically intuitive method called Rank Products (RP).
Date: 2011-12
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