A pathway-specific microarray analysis highlights the complex and co-ordinated transcriptional networks of the developing grain of field-grown barley.

Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, Research Centre Flakkebjerg, DK-4200 Slagelse, Denmark.
Journal of Experimental Botany (Impact Factor: 5.79). 12/2008; 60(1):153-67. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ern270
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The aim of the study was to describe the molecular and biochemical interactions associated with amino acid biosynthesis and storage protein accumulation in the developing grains of field-grown barley. Our strategy was to analyse the transcription of genes associated with the biosynthesis of storage products during the development of field-grown barley grains using a grain-specific microarray assembled in our laboratory. To identify co-regulated genes, a distance matrix was constructed which enabled the identification of three clusters corresponding to early, middle, and late grain development. The gene expression pattern associated with the clusters was investigated using pathway-specific analysis with specific reference to the temporal expression levels of a range of genes involved mainly in the photosynthesis process, amino acid and storage protein metabolism. It is concluded that the grain-specific microarray is a reliable and cost-effective tool for monitoring temporal changes in the transcriptome of the major metabolic pathways in the barley grain. Moreover, it was sensitive enough to monitor differences in the gene expression profiles of different homologues from the storage protein families. The study described here should provide a strong complement to existing knowledge assisting further understanding of grain development and thereby provide a foundation for plant breeding towards storage proteins with improved nutritional quality.

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