Bioinformatics is becoming an increasingly important field in biology. The Laboratory of Molecular Biology applies bioinformatics tools in various research projects, with an emphasis on the analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data.
We are assembling whole genomes of plants, mycorrhizal fungi, and nitrogen-fixing bacteria with the aim to unravel the genetic basis for plant-microbe symbiosis as well as drought resistance. Some organisms have never been sequenced before and require “de-novo” assembly with associated computational challenges. This is done based on high-throughput shotgun sequencing, using various sequencing platforms (Illumina, 454, PacBio). By comparing genome sequences in an evolutionary context (comparative genomics) we aim to associate genomic variants with traits and phenotypes across different species.
Whole transcriptome shotgun sequencing (RNAseq) allows for the characterisation and quantification of gene expression accross tissues, treatments, and species. Transcriptome analysis is an important tool for selecting candidate genes underlying traits. Examples of transcriptome projects within the Laboratory of Molecular Biology include comparing gene expression between species that differ in their ability to form Rhizobium symbiosis (Parasponia and Trema) or between different tissues or treatments in a single species (e.g. Medicago, Arabidopsis).