Date of Award

12-1-2016

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Plant Biology

First Advisor

Geisler, Matt

Abstract

Interactions between organisms are fundamental to population and community structures, but are poorly understood at the genetic and molecular levels. The study summarized in this work hopes to answer a basic question: how do plants recognize and interact with members of the same species at a molecular level. In this experiment, Arabidopsis thaliana was planted at different densities in pots (1 plant per pot, 9pp, 25pp and 49pp). Both biometric, nutrient and transcriptomic data was used to determine how plants of the same species sense and interact at both molecular and organismal level during competition. Measurements were made at both the level of individuals and whole pots, measured using both quantitative and qualitative measurements, specifically RNA-seq. The data generated from RNA-seq should competition caused a differential expression 3,512 genes in roots and 13,402 genes in shoots. Competition in Arabidopsis triggers a genetic response that bears similarity to chitin sensing. Genes involved in the GO category “Response to Chitin” were the 2nd most induced genes in roots. These genes included LYSRM-RLK, WRYK33, JAZ7. It is possible that these genes operate a pathway that is involved in a competition response.

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