Plant Bioinformatic Methods

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Overview

The past 15 years have been exciting ones in plant biology. Hundreds of plant genomes have been sequenced, RNA-seq has enabled transcriptome-wide expression profiling, and a proliferation of "-seq"-based methods has permitted protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions to be determined cheaply and in a high-throughput manner. These data sets in turn allow us to generate hypotheses at the click of a mouse or tap of a finger.The Plant Bioinformatics Specialization on Coursera introduces core bioinformatic competencies and resources, such as NCBI's Genbank, Blast, multiple sequence alignments, phylogenetics in Bioinformatic Methods I, followed by protein-protein interaction, structural bioinformatics and RNA-seq analysis in Bioinformatic Methods II. In Plant Bioinformatics we cover 33 plant-specific online tools from genome browsers to transcriptomic data mining to promoter/network analyses and others. Last, a Plant Bioinformatics Capstone uses these tools to hypothesize a biological role for a gene of unknown function, summarized in a written lab report.This specialization is useful to any modern plant molecular biologist wanting to get a feeling for the incredible scope of data available to researchers. A small amount of R programming is introduced in Bioinformatic Methods II, but most of the tools are web applications. It is recommended that you have access to a laptop or desktop computer for running these as they may not work as mobile applications on your phone or tablet.

Syllabus

Course 1: Bioinformatic Methods I
- Large-scale biology projects such as the sequencing of the human genome and gene expression surveys using RNA-seq, microarrays and other technologies have created a wealth of data for biologists. However, the challenge facing scientists is analyzing and even accessing these data to extract useful information pertaining to the system being studied. This course focuses on employing existing bioinformatic resources – mainly web-based programs and databases – to access the wealth of data to answer questions relevant to the average biologist, and is highly hands-on. Topics covered include multiple sequence alignments, phylogenetics, gene expression data analysis, and protein interaction networks, in two separate parts. The first part, Bioinformatic Methods I (this one), deals with databases, Blast, multiple sequence alignments, phylogenetics, selection analysis and metagenomics. The second part, Bioinformatic Methods II, covers motif searching, protein-protein interactions, structural bioinformatics, gene expression data analysis, and cis-element predictions. This pair of courses is useful to any student considering graduate school in the biological sciences, as well as students considering molecular medicine. Both provide an overview of the many different bioinformatic tools that are out there. These courses are based on one taught at the University of Toronto to upper-level undergraduates who have some understanding of basic molecular biology. If you're not familiar with this, something like https://learn.saylor.org/course/bio101 might be helpful. No programming is required for this course. Bioinformatic Methods I is regularly updated, and was last updated for January 2019.

Course 2: Bioinformatic Methods II
- Large-scale biology projects such as the sequencing of the human genome and gene expression surveys using RNA-seq, microarrays and other technologies have created a wealth of data for biologists. However, the challenge facing scientists is analyzing and even accessing these data to extract useful information pertaining to the system being studied. This course focuses on employing existing bioinformatic resources – mainly web-based programs and databases – to access the wealth of data to answer questions relevant to the average biologist, and is highly hands-on. Topics covered include multiple sequence alignments, phylogenetics, gene expression data analysis, and protein interaction networks, in two separate parts. The first part, Bioinformatic Methods I, dealt with databases, Blast, multiple sequence alignments, phylogenetics, selection analysis and metagenomics. This, the second part, Bioinformatic Methods II, will cover motif searching, protein-protein interactions, structural bioinformatics, gene expression data analysis, and cis-element predictions. This pair of courses is useful to any student considering graduate school in the biological sciences, as well as students considering molecular medicine. These courses are based on one taught at the University of Toronto to upper-level undergraduates who have some understanding of basic molecular biology. If you're not familiar with this, something like https://learn.saylor.org/course/bio101 might be helpful. No programming is required for this course although some command line work (though within a web browser) occurs in the 5th module. Bioinformatic Methods II is regularly updated, and was last updated for March 2019.

Course 3: Plant Bioinformatics
- The past 15 years have been exciting ones in plant biology. Hundreds of plant genomes have been sequenced, RNA-seq has enabled transcriptome-wide expression profiling, and a proliferation of "-seq"-based methods has permitted protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions to be determined cheaply and in a high-throughput manner. These data sets in turn allow us to generate hypotheses at the click of a mouse. For instance, knowing where and when a gene is expressed can help us narrow down the phenotypic search space when we don't see a phenotype in a gene mutant under "normal" growth conditions. Coexpression analyses and association networks can provide high-quality candidate genes involved in a biological process of interest. Using Gene Ontology enrichment analysis and pathway visualization tools can help us make sense of our own 'omics experiments and answer the question "what processes/pathways are being perturbed in our mutant of interest?" Structure: each of the 6 week hands-on modules consists of a ~2 minute intro, a ~20 minute theory mini-lecture, a 1.5 hour hands-on lab, an optional ~20 minute lab discussion if experiencing difficulties with lab, and a ~2 minute summary. Tools covered: Module 1: GENOMIC DBs / PRECOMPUTED GENE TREES / PROTEIN TOOLS. Araport, TAIR, Gramene, EnsemblPlants Compara, PLAZA; SUBA4 and Cell eFP Browser, 1001 Genomes Browser Module 2: EXPRESSION TOOLS. eFP Browser / eFP-Seq Browser, Araport, Genevestigator, TravaDB, NCBI Genome Data Viewer for exploring RNA-seq data for many plant species other than Arabidopsis, MPSS database for small RNAs Module 3: COEXPRESSION TOOLS. ATTED II, Expression Angler, AraNet, AtCAST2 Module 4: PROMOTER ANALYSIS. Cistome, Athena, ePlant Module 5: GO ENRICHMENT ANALYSIS AND PATHWAY VIZUALIZATION. AgriGO, AmiGO, Classification SuperViewer, TAIR, g:profiler, AraCyc, MapMan (optional: Plant Reactome) Module 6: NETWORK EXPLORATION. Arabidopsis Interactions Viewer 2, ePlant, TF2Network, Virtual Plant, GeneMANIA [Material updated in June 2019]

Course 4: Plant Bioinformatics Capstone
- The past 15 years have been exciting ones in plant biology. Hundreds of plant genomes have been sequenced, RNA-seq has enabled transcriptome-wide expression profiling, and a proliferation of "-seq"-based methods has permitted protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions to be determined cheaply and in a high-throughput manner. These data sets in turn allow us to generate hypotheses at the click of a mouse or tap of a finger. In Plant Bioinformatics on Coursera.org, we covered 33 plant-specific online tools from genome browsers to transcriptomic data mining to promoter/network analyses and others, and in this Plant Bioinformatics Capstone we'll use these tools to hypothesize a biological role for a gene of unknown function, summarized in a written lab report. This course is part of a Plant Bioinformatics Specialization on Coursera, which introduces core bioinformatic competencies and resources, such as NCBI's Genbank, Blast, multiple sequence alignments, phylogenetics in Bioinformatic Methods I, followed by protein-protein interactions, structural bioinformatics and RNA-seq analysis in Bioinformatic Methods II, in addition to the plant-specific concepts and tools introduced in Plant Bioinformatics and the Plant Bioinformatics Capstone. This course/capstone was developed with funding from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Arts and Science Open Course Initiative Fund (OCIF) and was implemented by Eddi Esteban, Will Heikoop and Nicholas Provart. Asher Pasha programmed a gene ID randomizer.