Most of our knowledge on gene function in plants is derived from a dicotyledonous weed, the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We want to expand our understanding of gene function and how plant traits evolve by looking at a wider range of plant species. More specifically, we are generating biological data in form of gene expression (RNA-sequencing) and protein-protein interaction networks for representatives of the various clades in the Archaeplastida kingdom. By comparative analyses we want to find out when functional gene modules were born, duplicated and, in some cases, extinct during plant evolution.
This research will show how polygenic traits, such as stress adaptation and diurnal changes, evolved in plants. Gene function prediction for stress-related traits is a prerequisite to efficiently engineer plants for stable food production in a changing climate.