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Computer-Based Biology Uncovers Secrets to Rice Growth

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Rice growing in a field.

Researchers at the University of Indiana are studying rice genetics as a means of addressing global hunger and malnutrition issues.

Credit: AliExpress

University of Indiana researchers are using a mix of experimental and computational work to study rice genetics with the goal of addressing global issues in hunger and malnutrition.

"The plant breeders and the plant genomics scientists are working together really heavily to figure out what are the sensible approaches to potentially increase the yield and in particular to make the plants more resistant to stresses," says University of Indiana professor Volker Brendel.

As part of the research, scientists extract DNA from crops in the lab and upload the information to computer databases. Computational scientists then use software and data analysis to study biological phenomena, such as proteins that control genetic expression or locations of DNA transcription into RNA.

One computational method, RNA-Seq, examines the RNA from the samples to identify areas of genetic expression in DNA. Brendel uses RNA-Seq to compare genetic expression between salt-resistant and salt-tolerant rice to determine what makes these plants different on a genetic level.

The researchers use these two phases, experimental and computational, to discover ways to optimize plant growth. "We try to turn everything that we do into basically a workflow that gives reproducible or scalable results," Brendel says.

From Indiana Daily Student
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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