Project

Modelling meiotic recombination

Classical plant breeding exploits the genetic variation that is generated by meiotic recombination. During meiosis, allele combinations are produced which could confer improved phenotypes. However, there are intrinsic limits to this strategy, due to natural restrictions on meiotic recombination distribution and rate in different crop species. The goal of this project is to explore the use of computational modelling to obtain understanding of plant meiotic recombination by integrating experimental data and computational approaches.

Classical plant breeding exploits the genetic variation that is generated by meiotic recombination. During meiosis, allele combinations are produced which could confer improved phenotypes. However, there are intrinsic limits to this strategy, due to natural restrictions on meiotic recombination distribution and rate in different crop species. The goal of this project is to explore the use of computational modelling to obtain understanding of plant meiotic recombination by integrating experimental data and computational approaches.

The major pathways involved in meiotic recombination are rapidly being uncovered, and increasing amounts of data on molecular components in these pathways are available. However, understanding at the pathway level of how these pathway components regulate recombination rate variation has not yet been achieved. To obtain a more quantitative understanding, mechanistic modelling approaches will be applied. Because crossover frequency is determined by quantitative interactions between chromatin, DNA sequence and meiotic chromosome organization, quantitative modelling is an appropriate approach to obtain further understanding of meiotic recombination. Examples of the quantitative nature of the pathways underlying crossover formation is given by e.g. the quantitative dosage effect of HEI10 expression on recombination rate or the quantitative variation in the number of crossovers in various Arabidopsis mutants, e.g..

In order to model this quantitative behaviour, an ordinary differential equation model which has previously been presented for DSB repair will be used. This model includes a sub-model for homologous recombination, which we will use as a starting point for our model for meiotic recombination. Parameter values used in this model will be fine-tuned in order to obtain agreement with experimental data for Arabidopsis, e.g..