PhD. Thesis Defense: Melda Kantar
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Diversity of microRNAs and genes towards development of drought-tolerant wheat 

 

 

Melda Kantar
Biology and Bioengineering, PhD Dissertation, 2014

 

Thesis Jury

 

Prof. Dr Hikmet Budak (Thesis Advisor),

Prof. Yusuf Menceloğlu, Assoc. Prof. Levent Öztürk,

Assoc. Prof. Ali Koşar, Asist. Prof. Bahar Soğutmaz Özdemir

 

 

Date & Time: December 30th, 2014 –  13:30 PM

Place: Fens 2019

Keywords : microRNA, quantitative trait locus, drought, Triticeae, drought, wheat, barley

  

   

 

Abstract

 

 

World is threatened by global warming resulting in elevated incidence of drought, the primary cause of yield loss in wheat. Domestication of wheat species, followed by years of cultivation, genetics and breeding practices has considerably narrowed gene pools of today’s elite cultivars. These practices introduce an artificial selection pressure for yield which eradicates genetic diversity in the long run, and leads to the loss of valuable alleles for drought stress tolerance. Cellular responses against stress conditions usually involve intermingled, complex networks of gene interactions. Therefore, understanding the molecular basis of stress responses in wheat and related species is highly challenging but also, crucial. In the first project, we introgressed drought-related genomic regions to elite germplasm, providing potentially high drought tolerant bread wheat. Although the capacity of plants to tolerate drought is largely coded in their genomes, it is of equal importance to understand the efficient activation of drought response mechanisms by elaborating regulation of a complex network of gene interactions. Integral to these stress responses are, undoubtedly, miRNAs, which act as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. Comparative analyses of miRNA repertoires and functions across several wheat species indicate conserved or unique patterns of defence and tolerance. In this regard, focus of our research is swiftly shifting to microRNAs, small molecules central to post-trancriptional regulation of gene expression. In the second project, we identified and investigated microRNAs and their target genes after survey sequencing of flow sorted chromosomes with Next Generation Sequencing in wheat and related species and further characterised their responses to drought. miRNA repertoires reported here will be convenient for further studies expanding our understanding of gene regulation across wheat and related species and the role of microRNAs in drought tolerance.