Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) researcher Vladimir Shulaev has been awarded a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the collaborative "Arabidopsis 2010" research project. Through such projects, the NSF hopes to determine the function of 25,000 genes in Arabidopsis thaliana by the year 2010. The research conducted at VBI will examine parts of the Arabidopsis genome that are involved in essential functions of the plant, leading to improvements in crop yield and nutritional value.
Shulaev, along with researchers from University of Michigan and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, is working to understand the function of the SABATH faculty of methyltransferase genes in plants. These genes are believed to have profound effects on plant physiology and reproduction by mediating processes in plants controlled by signaling and hormone molecules.
Using gene expression profiling, metabolite profiling, and genetic manipulations, the team will learn more about plant physiology and then translate that information to other crops. "The 'Arabidopsis 2010' project will provide essential information about discovering an organism's chemical repertoire," Shulaev said. "Collaborating with both the University of Michigan and The Salk Institute is an exciting research opportunity for VBI."
The project will also support a number of minority high school, undergraduate and graduate students. This interdisciplinary project will provide these students with a unique research experience. In addition, methods and materials developed in this investigation will be used to train undergraduate students in formal lab courses.
VBI, a Commonwealth of Virginia shared resource, serves as a flagship bioinformatics research institute wedding cutting-edge biological research with state-of-the-art computer science. By integrating experimental and computational laboratories, VBI provides a unique research platform to all stakeholders on a cost-recovery basis. More information about VBI is available online at: www.vbi.vt.edu. This project is one of the 42 currently underway at the institute.