Rose Deshler
Year: 2021
Faculty Advisor: Andrew Nelson

“Identification and Functional Predictions of Long Non-coding RNAs in Sorghum bicolor, and Using HTP to Validate IncRNA Functional Predictions in Arabidopsis thaliana

Project Summary:

Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were once considered insignificant portions of eukaryotic genomes. However, the identification and functional annotation of lncRNAs has been a budding area of research due to their implications in mediating stress responses across eukaryotes. The majority of our functional understanding of lncRNAs comes from mammalian systems where they have been implicated in disease, aging, and cancer progression. On the other hand, lncRNAs have yet to be thoroughly annotated in plants. From the limited knowledge available in plants, we know that lncRNAs are typically expressed in a tissue-specific manner, assist in sensing environmental change, and mediate plant stress responses. To add to our current knowledge of lncRNAs in plants, we have been using existing RNA sequencing data and bioinformatic approaches to build a greater understanding of the transcriptome in Sorghum bicolor. In addition, we have been using high-throughput phenotyping (HTP) to validate functional predictions of previously identified lncRNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana. During the screening, we have sorted through about 2,500 sets of Sorghum RNA sequencing data and identified 85,935 lincRNAs in Sorghum. Furthermore, we have screened through about 3000 images of 155 Arabidopsis plants, and we have revealed about 5 T-DNA-mutant potential candidates for further studies.

My Experience:

My time here at BTI has been unforgettable. I feel like I have genuinely learned more (particularly about plants) here in the span of 10 weeks than I do in a normal semester. Not only have I broadened my laboratory and greenhouse experiences, but I have learned an immense amount of bioinformatics. My appreciation for the understanding of plant science has expanded greatly during this internship and I could not have asked for a better, first research experience.