Plant genetics and genomics

Leader of the research program: Jaroslav Doležel and the respective department

Understanding the plant genome structure and function is a challenging goal of contemporary biology. It is motivated by a desire to reveal molecular processes that contributed to the evolution of a variety of life forms and strategies on the Earth. The results of this research have also practical implications and provide knowledge and tools for breeding of agricultural crops. Proposed research objective involves four complementary research lines. The first will provide novel information on molecular organization of large plant genomes using bread wheat as a model. Sequencing nuclear genome of wheat is one of the most ambitious projects of contemporary genomics. The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium chose the chromosome genomics developed by the Centre of Structural and Functional Genomics as a basic strategy. Within this project, wheat chromosomes 4A, 3DS and 7DS will be sequenced and annotated reference sequences will be used to study the evolution of wheat genome and also to facilitate mapping and cloning of important genes. The second research line will involve the analysis of evolutionary conserved chromosome breakpoints that define genomic blocks involved in karyotype evolution. The new knowledge will contribute to the understanding of genome features that underline karyotype evolution. Its practical implication will be related to breeding programs, which utilize alien introgressions and interspecific hybridization in general. The third line of research will characterize structural changes of parental genomes in hybrids and polyploids using wheat and Festulolium as models. This activity will include characterization of gene expression in parental genomes and will be accompanied by the analysis of their epigenetic status. The study will provide a comprehensive picture of changes in plant genomes due to polyploidy and the mode in which the parent genomes in polyploid organisms cooperate. The fourth research direction will study functional genome organization and will shed light on the organization of DNA in chromatin, three-dimensional architecture of cell nuclei and the role of nuclear proteins in chromatin organization. The results will contribute to the understanding of the role of chromatin architecture in regulating gene expression.