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February : Network-based integration of systems genetics data,reveals pathways associated with lignocellulosic,biomass accumulation and processing

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23 February, 2017

Network-based integration of systems genetics data,reveals pathways associated with lignocellulosic,biomass accumulation and processing

Eshchar Mizrachia,b,1,2, Lieven Verbekec,d,1, Nanette Christiea,b, Ana C. Fierroc,d, Shawn D. Mansfielde , Mark F. Davisf , Erica Gjersingf , Gerald A. Tuskang , Marc Van Montagud,h,2, Yves Van de Peerb,d,h, Kathleen Marchala,c,d,2, and Alexander A. Myburga,b,2

a Department of Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0028, South Africa; b Genomics Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0028, South Africa; c Department of Information Technology, Ghent University, iMinds, 9052 Gent, Belgium; d Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Ghent University, 9052 Gent, Belgium; e Department of Wood Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4; f Biosciences Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO 80401; g Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831; and h Department of Plant Systems Biology, VIB, 9052 Gent, Belgium

As a consequence of their remarkable adaptability, fast growth, and superior wood properties, eucalypt tree plantations have emerged as key renewable feedstocks (over 20 million ha globally) for the production of pulp, paper, bioenergy, and other lignocellulosic products. However, most biomass properties such as growth, wood density, and wood chemistry are complex traits that are hard to improve in long-lived perennials. Systems genetics, a process of harnessing multiple levels of component trait information (e.g., transcript, protein, and metabolite variation) in populations that vary in complex traits, has proven effective for dissecting the genetics and biology of such traits. We have applied a network-based data integration (NBDI) method for a systems-level analysis of genes, processes and pathways underlying biomass and bioenergy-related traits using a segregating Eucalyptus hybrid population. We show that the integrative approach can link biologically meaningful sets of genes to complex traits and at the same time reveal the molecular basis of trait variation. Gene sets identified for related woody biomass traits were found to share regulatory loci, cluster in network neighborhoods, and exhibit enrichment for molecular functions such as xylan metabolism and cell wall development. These findings offer a framework for identifying the molecular underpinnings of complex biomass and bioprocessing-related traits. A more thorough understanding of the molecular basis of plant biomass traits should provide additional opportunities for the establishment of a sustainable bio-based economy. 

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Source: FABI


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