When a plant experiences stress, such as cold temperature, they upregulate a number of genes. We recently found that many of these genes have antisense non-coding transcription from the complementary DNA strand. However, the RNA produced are almost instantly degraded. The question is thus, why does the plant spend energy of producing these transcripts? One hypothesis is that the transcription itself keeps the DNA “open” so that the transcription of the genes can be boosted when the plant is exposed to stress. Another is that it modifies the chromatin environment. In order to investigate this, two types of attempts will be made to block antisense transcription; disruption of the antisense promoter by adding a T-DNA sequence, and removal of a piece of the antisense promoter using CRISPR-Cas9. We will use the model plant Arabidopsis and our goal will be to understand if non-coding transcription is required for plants to properly respond and survive stress situations.

Supervisor: Peter Kindgren, Dept of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, SLU.
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