SUGARCANE REGULATORY NETWORKS
This project aims to study gene expression regulation and to generate tools that will allow us to employ a Systems Biology approach in sugarcane to identify regulatory networks. As a starting point we intend to characterize two agronomical traits of interest in sugarcane: drought and brix. We will study gene categories with a well known regulatory role (Transcription Factors, Protein Kinases and Phosphatases), continue studies of the Transcriptome, produce transgenics e develop databases and computacional tools to integrate the several levels of information. We will identify TF targets using ChIP-HTS and clone gene promoters. The results will have multiple direct consequences on breeding programs which frequently select for CREs and TF changes in search for genotypes better adapted to the environment and with increased agronomical performance. PKs activate signaling cascades in response to environmental stimuli and our studies point to a predominant role of PKs in the regulation of sucrose content and drought responses. To identify new genes associated to brix and drought we will characterize the transcriptome of genotypes and cultivars that contrast for brix and drought tolerance using olinonucleotide arrays. Genes of interest will be functionally evaluated by generating transgenics altered for their expression. To integrate the immense amount of public data and that generated by this project a robust computational infra-structure and database will be developed. The SUCEST-FUN database will integrate the SUCEST sequences, promoters, CREs, expression data, agronomical, physiological and biochemical characterization of sugarcane cultivars. In parallel, we will also participate in the development of the GRASSIUS database to establish sugarcane, rice, maize and sorghum regulatory networks.