Comparing time series transcriptome data between plants using a network module finding algorithm
Heath, Lenwood S.
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Abstract Background Comparative transcriptome analysis is the comparison of expression patterns between homologous genes in different species. Since most molecular mechanistic studies in plants have been performed in model species, including Arabidopsis and rice, comparative transcriptome analysis is particularly important for functional annotation of genes in diverse plant species. Many biological processes, such as embryo development, are highly conserved between different plant species. The challenge is to establish one-to-one mapping of the developmental stages between two species. Results In this manuscript, we solve this problem by converting the gene expression patterns into co-expression networks and then apply network module finding algorithms to the cross-species co-expression network. We describe how such analyses are carried out using bash scripts for preliminary data processing followed by using the R programming language for module finding with a simulated annealing method. We also provide instructions on how to visualize the resulting co-expression networks across species. Conclusions We provide a comprehensive pipeline from installing software and downloading raw transcriptome data to predicting homologous genes and finding orthologous co-expression networks. From the example provided, we demonstrate the application of our method to reveal functional conservation and divergence of genes in two plant species.