A free online tool that makes it easier for non-specialists to interpret genomic information has been developed by scientists at The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) and The John Innes Centre.
The tool called expVIP (expression Visualisation and Integration Platform) will help a global community of scientists understand more about important food crops, in particular about how plants grow under different environmental conditions.
ExpVIP allows researchers to submit information from any species into a single web-based tool that will provide a full analysis of their expression data. This enables scientists and breeders to know where and when genes are expressed in their favourite plants.
Dr Uauy said: “This new tool will accelerate scientific discoveries by enabling researchers and breeders to more easily place their discoveries in the context of previous knowledge.”
Most of the world’s major crops are polyploid, meaning they have multiple copies of a very similar set of genes. This makes analysis of gene expression notoriously difficult. However, expVIP is designed to tackle this effectively and simplifies the interpretation and linkage of this complex data.
As a proof-of-concept, the scientists used expVIP to analyse publicly available data from wheat plants grown under a variety of growth conditions. Over 400 datasets which were previously separate and were not easily accessible to most breeders and researchers have now been opened up and linked thanks to this resource. T
Analysis of genomic data is a key aspect of future strategies that researchers will use to develop improved crop species that are able to flourish in the world’s changing climate.
The work was supported by the BBSRC and the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP).
An explanation of the expVIP tool is available at http://www.wheat-expression.com/.