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Methods for transcriptome reconstruction, with an application in Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.

Time: Fri 2021-03-12 10.00

Location:, Solna

Subject area: Biotechnology

Doctoral student: Karl Johan Westrin , Genteknologi, Emanuelsson Lab

Opponent: Doktor Björn Nystedt, Uppsala universitet

Supervisor: Docent Olof Emanuelsson, Genteknologi


Transcriptome reconstruction is an important component in the bioinformatical part of transcriptome studies. It is particulary interesting when a reference genome is missing, highly fragmented or incomplete, since in such situations, a simple alignment (or mapping) would not necessarily tell the full story. One species with such a highly fragmented reference genome is the Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) -- a conifer, which is very important for Swedish economy. Given its long juvenile phase and irregular cone setting, the demand of cultivated seeds are larger than the supply. This yields a desire to understand the transcriptomal biology behind the cone setting in P. abies.

This thesis presents an introduction to this situation, and the biological and bioinformatical background in general, followed by two papers in which this is applied: Paper I introduces a novel de novo transcriptome assembler, with a focus on recovering isoforms, and paper II makes use of this assembler to be able to detect connections between scaffolds in the P. abies genome. Paper I also studies P. abies var acrocona, a mutant with shorter juvenile phase than the wild type, in order to detect how cone setting is initiated.  From differential expression studies of both mRNA and miRNA, a number of genes potentially involved in cone-setting in P. abies were found, and also a set of miRNAs that could be involved in their regulation.