Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Plants, Soils, and Insects

Major Professor

C. Neal Stewart Jr.

Committee Members

Carl Sams, Mark Radosevich, Arnold Saxton, Hamparsum Bozdogan

Abstract

This research focused on understanding genetic responses of plants to explosives, which is necessary to produce plants to detect and clean soil and water contaminated with toxic explosive compounds. The first study used microarray technology to reveal transcriptional changes in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana exposed to the explosive compounds RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine; Royal Demolition Explosive or Research Department Explosive) and TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene). This study yielded a list of genes up- and downregulated by explosive compounds, which can be potentially used for phytoremediation (remediation using plants) or phytosensing (detection using plants) of explosive compounds. The second study presented biotechnology tools to enhance phytosensing that might have application in not only explosives phytosensing but also sensing of other contaminants or important biological agents. This study addressed the problem of low detectable levels of reporter gene signal from a phytosensor and the results suggest the potential use of a site-specific recombination system to amplify the reporter gene signal. The final study addressed microarray data analysis and best practices for statistical analysis of microarray data. Standard parametric approaches for microarray analysis can be very conservative, indicating no unusable information from expensive microarray experiments. A nonparametric method of analysis on a variety of microarray datasets proved to be effective in providing reliable and useful information, when the standard parametric approach used was too conservative.

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