Topic outline

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    Course description
    Environmental conditions alter gene expression. For example, pollutants in the environment can change the expression of genes in a plant. But which genes, and how much does their expression change? Until recently it was impossible to simultaneously study the expression of large numbers of genes. However, scientists now have a tool - the genechip - to rapidly assess changes in the expression of many genes. This tool consists of pieces of DNA affixed to a solid surface in a grid-like array – a microarray. Microarray analysis is a tool for rapidly examining the regulation of thousands of genes. This course is designed around a hands-on experiment in which we will study the effects of altered soil conditions on gene expression in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana; this plant is closely related to cabbage and mustard plants and is frequently used as model eukaryotic organism. The course will be taught in conjunction with scientists from the University of Vermont, as a service of the Vermont Genetics Network.

    We will begin the course with discussions and readings to design the experiment. In the second part of the course we will purify RNA from the plants, then use cDNA synthesis, microarray hybridization and bioinformatics to analyze gene expression and assess the results of our experiment.

    This course is limited to 12 students. Students with more biology and chemistry coursework and laboratory experience will be given priority.


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