Mike Scanlon will head a team of researchers from five institutions in an NSF-funded investigation of the genomic mechanisms underlying shoot apical meristem (SAM) initiation, structure, and function. Responsible for the development of all above ground organs in the plant, the molecular mechanisms regulating SAM function are poorly understood. Owing to a unique combination of biological advantages and genomic resources, the maize SAM is the focus of this study.
Scanlon's lab will use laser-microdissection and massively parallel sequencing to examine transcriptional profiles during the formation of the maize SAM within developing embryos, and identify genetic networks controlling SAM ontogeny. Working with collaborator Dr. Marja Timmermans (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory), the Scanlon laboratory will utilize reverse genetic resources to examine the function of forty SAM genes implicated to function during maize leaf development. Expert at microRNA biology, Timmerman's group will examine the SAM-specific expression, accumulation and function of small regulatory RNAs contributing to SAM function. Collaborators at the University of Minnesota headed by Dr. Gary Muehlbauer will use traditional and laser-microdissection assisted approaches to identify quantitative trait loci that contribute to the widespread natural variation in size and shape of the maize SAM. An expert in population genetic analysis, collaborator Dr. Jianming Yu (Kansas State University will use Nested Association Mapping of genetically diverse maize populations to identify novel alleles haplotypes contributing to complex leaf traits using linkage-disequilibrium mapping. Lastly, Dr. Diane Janick-Buckner and Dr. Jon Beck of Truman State University will lead a team of undergraduates charged with maintaining the SAM project database. The Truman group will spearhead the bioinformatic annotation and distribution of all the data generated during this project. As public outreach, the Dolan DNA learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor will construct a public website/podcast entitled “Weed to Wonder" that will present the history of maize genetic research and celebrate its affects on human culture.
This project will generate expression data, phenotypic data, QTL and nested association mapping data, and introgressed maize seed stocks harboring mutations in SAM function genes that will be released to public databases and stock centers.