Research

Molecular Projects

The Floral Genome Project - (Penn State Link) The Floral Genome Project (FGP) is a collaborative research program to identify genes involved in early flower development. The Floral Genome Project's Goals are to: 1) learn more about the origin, conservation, and diversification of the genetic architecture of flowers; 2) develop tools for evolutionary functional genomics; 3) generate a comparative data set of sequences and expression patterns for floral development genes; and 4) provide a resource for generating and testing hypotheses about common gene functions and the potential sources of variation in floral development. This involves identifying the genes that are expressed during normal flower development in evolutionarily diverse plants. To accomplish this, we are sequencing over 100,000 cDNA clones from early stages of flower development in 15 plant species and then identifying the site and timing of expression of genes that regulate floral development. A set of 15 plant 'exemplars' were selected to include the basal taxa where the greatest most flower diversity is found, plus key eudicot lineages where many crop species occur. The basal taxa chosen include Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip or yellow poplar). Liriodendron was chosen because it is a member of the evolutionarily important Magnolia family, it has a relatively small genome, it is an economically important forest species, it can be genetically transformed for testing the function of floral genes, and genetics programs exist for the species. The last point is where The University of Tennessee Tree Improvement Program (UT TIP) and clone 108 come into the FGP story. The Liriodendron orchard that the UT TIP manages has trees that are large enough so that only one genotype can provide all of the material needed to make DNA libraries and provide flower bud samples for testing. Using only one tree means that genetic differences among individuals will not confuse the identification of genes as alleles vs. members of gene families. Also, genotypes that can be repeatedly sampled permit experiments to be repeated with the same source of material. By satisfying all of these requirements, and in addition being a tree that produces genetically superior offspring, clone 108 will be important to plant genomics and genetic research for many years to come.

Principal and Co-Principal Investigators: Claude dePamphilis (Director, Penn State), Hong Ma (Penn State), John Carlson (Penn State), Webb Miller (Penn State), Steven Tanksley (Cornell U.), Jeff Doyle (Cornell U.), Douglas Soltis (U. Florida), Pamela Soltis (U. Florida), David Oppenheimer (U. Florida), Victor Albert (U. Oslo), Michael Frohlich (British Museum of Natural History), Dawn Field (Oxford C.E.H.), Günter Theißen (Jena U., Germany), Steve Farris (Stockholm), Naomi Altman (Penn State), Francesca Chiarmonte (Penn State), David Bird (North Carolina State University)