Mr Drew Behrens
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
My current research for my Masters degree focusses on gene regulatory RNA, or noncoding RNA (ncRNA) in Eucalyptus grandis. ncRNA such as microRNA, siRNA and long noncooding RNA (lncRNA) are known to regulate gene expression at the level of transcription, post-transcription and post translation and have also been found to be highly tissue and lineage specific. This suggests their roles in tissue specific development through regulation of transcriptional programmes. More specifically, I will be developing a catalogue of microRNAs and lncRNAs in Eucalyptus leaf, xylem and phloem tissue. Once a high-confidence set of these genes is identified and assembled back to the reference E. grandis genome, we will be able to interrogate differentially expressed noncoding genes between the three tissues with the aim of identifying xylem specific regulatory ncRNAs. These may potentially be involved in cell or tissue specific developmental programmes that determine cell fate or regulate complex transcriptomic and metabolimic processes specific to xylogenesis and secondary cell wall formation. In this way I hope to add an additional layer of gene regulation to what is already known about xylogenesis on the protein-coding gene level, and to also create a information resource of Eucalyptus ncRNA that can aid in future research involving gene regulation.