Science at the Edge Seminar

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Speaker:  Rongling Wu, Department of Public Health Sciences and Statistics and Director of Center for Statistical Genetics, Pennsylvania State University

Title: Statistical Genetics and Genomics: A Computational-experimental Framework to Map Plant Coexistence

Refreshments at 11:15 am.

Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2017, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Type: Seminar

Location: 1400 BPS Bldg.

Despite its importance in understanding the emergent property of plant communities and ecosystems, the question of how genes govern species coexistence has proven very difficult to answer. In a plant community that behaves like a network game, each coexisting plant strives to maximize its fitness by pursuing a “rational self-interest” strategy in a way that affects the decisive reaction of other plants. We integrated this principle founding game theory into a quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping paradigm, on which to derive a game mapping model for the genetic landscaping of how plants coexist. The new mapping model dissolves the phenotype of each plant in a community into two components, autonomous phenotype, characteristic of the plant's intrinsic ability expected to be expressed in isolation, and social phenotype, determined by game theory-guided interactions between the plant and other members. We implemented the new model into a competition experiment by pairwise growing 116 recombinant inbred lines of Arabidopsis. Most QTLs detected from this experiment reside within biologically meaningful genes, including SCL6, CAR6, CLPB1, ALDH5F1, and EMB2217, which may mediate competitive interactions in unique ways. The new model can chart more detailed genetic architecture of plant community structure and diversity by extracting the genetic effects of QTLs ·on social phenotypes. Our model lays the groundwork for predicting and managing dynamic relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning from co-species' genotypes.