Student grant shall contribute to study of barley root system - Catrin

Student grant shall contribute to study of barley root system

Knowledge leading to a deeper understanding of the formation and development of the root system in barley is goal to be achieved by a one-year grant awarded to PhD students Nikola Kořínková and Alexie Techer from CATRIN as part of the Palacký University Doctoral students grant competition. The information obtained could in the future contribute to the modulation of a root system which would ensure higher yields of this economically important crop and its greater adaptation to a changing climate.

CATRIN’s Plant Genetics and Engineering research group has been studying the barley root system for a long time. In their dissertations, both students are investigating selected genes that may regulate the formation and development of the root system. Thanks to the project entitled “Next-generation sequencing-based methods for transcription factor binding sites mapping in barley”, they will gain additional information to add to the existing mosaic of knowledge.

“We will focus on selected proteins – transcription factors that bind to DNA and are generally thought to be able to trigger gene transcription. We want to find out where the binding sites are in the barley genome, which will be possible by using DAP-seq.  Our first goal is to obtain a high-quality DNA library for next-generation sequencing, collect high-quality sequencing data and map the binding sites of transcription factors in the barley genome,” said the grant’s principal investigator, Nikola Kořínková.  The task for the next phase is to introduce the prepared constructs into barley. The PhD students want to prepare the plant material for another sequencing method that could confirm or refine the results obtained by DAP-seq in the future.

The research will be conducted by the two young scientists in collaboration with mentors. Under the guidance of David Kopečný from the Faculty of Science, UP, they will be able to expand their experience in the production and purification of recombinant proteins. In another part of the project related to the sequencing of a part of the genome, they will use the experience of Pavla Navrátilová from the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Olomouc. 

The research follows the worldwide efforts of the scientific community to ensure sufficient food for the ever-growing human population. Barley, the fourth most commonly consumed crop, has become an important research model. Due to its high adaptability, it can be grown in a variety of conditions. “Increasing the yield of barley could be achieved by modulating the root system for more efficient use of soil resources. For this reason, the formation and development of the root system needs to be understood in detail. In the case of barley, we are only at the beginning of unravelling this field,” said second investigator Alexie Techer.

Both PhD students consider the grant of CZK 958,000 a success. It was their first time preparing a separate grant and they had to learn new skills. This is another goal of the grant competition, in addition to expanding experimental skills and knowledge, to help prepare doctoral students for their future careers in science and research. A total of three teams of young scientists working at CATRIN were successful in the competition. Moreover, the head of CATRIN’s Plant Genetics and Engineering group, Véronique Bergougnoux-Fojtík, will mentor another project led by a student from the Department of Asian Studies. The projects will start in January next year.

Martina Šaradínová
December 14, 2021