|"From the genome to
the tree of life"
|With the support of the National
Science Foundation (Research
Coordination Network Grant DEB-0090227):
"DEEP GENE": TOWARD AN INTEGRATION OF PLANT PHYLOGENETICS
AND PLANT GENOMICS
- The green plants represent one of the biggest branches of the
tree of life -- more than 1/2 million species -- a clade at least
1 billion years old. Their morphological and chemical diversity,
ecological dominance, and importance in human affairs (for food,
shelter, and medicines) are paramount among life's lineages. A
recently improved understanding of their phylogeny generated from
the efforts of the "Deep Green" collaboration not only
allows the intellectual satisfaction of discovering the "roots"
of this major component of the world's biotic diversity, but also
has important practical benefits as well. Likewise, the ongoing
genomics projects on Arabidopsis and diverse crop plants provide
an unprecedented basis for comparative genomics to identify, isolate,
and determine the function of plant genes that are associated
with both vegetative and reproductive phenotypes.
- These two areas of research have so far proceeded entirely separately,
but are poised for a synthesis. Both groups of researchers could
benefit greatly from increased communication and collaboration.
The goal of this project, established in February 2001 with generous
support from the US National Science Foundation, is to explore
ways in which comparative phylogenetic studies can inform genomic
studies, and vice-versa. The group will foster a series of professional
meetings, workshops, training activities for K-12 teachers, undergraduates,
and graduate students, and this web site which will contain information
for professional scientists as well as educational materials for
the general public.
- The project is designed to facilitate a new, well-coordinated,
cohesive scientific community that will be able to use this phylogenetic
and genomics information for such new applications as predicting
the evolution of biochemical pathways, identifying gene duplications
and promoter evolution contributing to morphological changes,
predicting useful chemicals for pharmacology, selecting promising
genes for biotechnology studies, and carrying out comparative
functional and genomic studies. The fruits of such collaboration
will include: new tools for assessing plant relationships, new
comparative approaches to functional questions combining data
from phylogenetics and genomics, and enhanced training of scientists
at all levels.
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