Open Access Open Badges Research article

Correlation-maximizing surrogate gene space for visual mining of gene expression patterns in developing barley endosperm tissue

Marc Strickert1*, Nese Sreenivasulu1, Björn Usadel2 and Udo Seiffert1

Author Affiliations

1 Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), D-06466 Gatersleben, Germany

2 Max-Planck-lnstitute of Molecular Plant Physiology, 14424 Potsdam, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Bioinformatics 2007, 8:165  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-165

Published: 22 May 2007



Micro- and macroarray technologies help acquire thousands of gene expression patterns covering important biological processes during plant ontogeny. Particularly, faithful visualization methods are beneficial for revealing interesting gene expression patterns and functional relationships of coexpressed genes. Such screening helps to gain deeper insights into regulatory behavior and cellular responses, as will be discussed for expression data of developing barley endosperm tissue. For that purpose, high-throughput multidimensional scaling (HiT-MDS), a recent method for similarity-preserving data embedding, is substantially refined and used for (a) assessing the quality and reliability of centroid gene expression patterns, and for (b) derivation of functional relationships of coexpressed genes of endosperm tissue during barley grain development (0–26 days after flowering).


Temporal expression profiles of 4824 genes at 14 time points are faithfully embedded into two-dimensional displays. Thereby, similar shapes of coexpressed genes get closely grouped by a correlation-based similarity measure. As a main result, by using power transformation of correlation terms, a characteristic cloud of points with bipolar sandglass shape is obtained that is inherently connected to expression patterns of pre-storage, intermediate and storage phase of endosperm development.


The new HiT-MDS-2 method helps to create global views of expression patterns and to validate centroids obtained from clustering programs. Furthermore, functional gene annotation for developing endosperm barley tissue is successfully mapped to the visualization, making easy localization of major centroids of enriched functional categories possible.