CPSC Lecture with Olivier Loudet – University of Copenhagen

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Natural variation for growth response to the environment in Arabidopsis

CPSC Lecture with Olivier Loudet from Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin, INRA, France on 17 May.

Following a long history of quantitative genetics in crop plants, it is now quite popular as well to use naturally-occuring variation contained in
Arabidopsis thaliana accessions as the source of quantitative genomics approaches, designed to map QTLs and try and resolve them at the gene level.

Apart from being able to exploit –in multiple genetic backgrounds– allelic variation that cannot be easily retrieved from classical mutagenesis, the success of the QTL studies has often been because of the use of quantitative phenotyping, as opposed to the qualitative scales often used in typical mutant screens.

The objective of our work is to apply genome-wide quantitative molecular genetics to both, a very integrative and classical quantitative trait (shoot growth) and a molecular trait a priori more directly linked to the source of variation (gene expression under cis-regulation), in both cases studied in interaction with the abiotic environment (especially drought stress).

We are using a combination of our unique high-throughput phenotyping robot (the Phenoscope), RNA-seq, fine-mapping, complementation approaches and association genetics to pinpoint a significant number of QTLs and eQTLs to the gene level and identify causative polymorphisms and the molecular variation controlling natural diversity.

Exploiting these strategies at an unprecedented scale thanks to the Phenoscope should allow to resolve enough quantitative loci to start drawing a more general picture as to how and where in the pathways adaptation is shaping natural variation. I will present recent results obtained when trying to decipher the genetic architecture of dynamic growth response to the environment, to illustrate our strategies and research.