We identify genes in plants that are responsible for agricultural or agronomic properties. To this end, we analyse their genome-wide expression at the level of transcription. For this purpose, in particular comparative questions are suitable: e.g. high- vs. low producers, or resistant / tolerant vs. sensitive varieties. From all detectable genes of a plant, those are identified which show a reproducible difference in their mRNA level between two or more contrasting phenotypes. The advances in sequencing technology with ever-increasing amounts of data coupled with decreasing costs enable comprehensive analyses of gene expression with unprecedented sensitivity and accuracy. The quantitative analysis of cellular mRNA transcripts by sequencing has become an indispensable tool of so-called transcriptomics today.
For our projects we work closely with plant breeders / producers / collections, sequencing service providers and bioinformaticians. The data from the comparative transcriptome analyses are evaluated in our laboratory and candidate genes are verified by quantitative RT-PCR and validated on further, well-characterized plant material. Thus, one finally ends up with genes and derived markers, which e.g. can be used in plant breeding or for diagnostic procedures.