MIG Seminar – William Ho – 1st December, 2017

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Andrew Siebel


T: +61 3 8344 0707

William Ho

School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne

Friday 1st December
FW Jones Theatre, Level 3, Medical Building, The University of Melbourne

Salinity-induced Alteration of Root-omics in Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)

Due to increases in soil salinity in the temperate region optimal for cultivation, barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) has been suffered from substantial yield loss in Australia during the last decade. To understand the impact of high salinity in different cultivars of barley, de novo transcriptome assemblies of a malting cultivar (cv. Clipper) and a landrace (cv. Sahara) with known contrasting responses to salinity during their seedling stage were generated. However, stemmed from the relatively low level of functional annotations (~23%) of the assemblies in the previous study, gene-clusters enriched and differential transcripts identified upon salt stress were not conclusive. In this study, taking advantage of the newly available barley reference genome (cv. Morex) with substantial improvement in genomic coverage and sequencing depth, more than 78% of the transcripts were functionally annotated. With more than 90% transcript-mapping efficiency achieved, limma-based generalized linear models were then applied to statistically assess treatment-, root zone-, and cultivar-specific differentially expressed genes. From this analysis, we pinpoint contrasting enrichment of gene ontology categories related to secondary metabolism and lipid metabolism between the root-elongation and/or -maturation zone of Clipper and Sahara seedlings. Together with the integrated pathway analyses of the corresponding metabolomes and lipidomes obtained from the same sample-set, we propose that cv. Clipper could adopt more effective mechanisms to cope with the ambient high salt conditions. The availability of this integrated root-omics dataset will serve as a valuable resource for identifying valuable traits to assist breeding programmes of barley research community in future.

With the support of IAESTE, William has begun his research career in the Technical University of Denmark focusing on the in vitro protein engineering of nitrite reductase (an enzyme mediating the production of N2O – a potent greenhouse gas). After his graduation from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with his master thesis entitled the “Genetic Engineering of Rice for the Production of Carotenoids”, he obtained the DAAD-Croucher Foundation Scholarship in 2008 and moved to the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany to continue his study. During his PhD work with Prof. Detlef Weigel, William pinpointed the critical structural determinants determining the florigenic property of FLOWERING LOCUS T (a florigen highly conserved in the Plantae) in Arabidopsis thaliana by combination of reverse genetics and protein modelling techniques. In 2013, William moved to Australia and began his postdoctoral career at the Plant industry of CSIRO with focus on the “Orchestrated Transcriptomic Control of Fibre-initiation in Cotton”. Currently, William is working as a research fellow with Prof. Ute Roessner (School of BioScience, University of Melbourne) to construct a bioinformatics pipeline for integration of multi-omics data obtained from barley under salinity stress.

Enquiries: Andrew Siebel (asiebel@unimelb.edu.au)