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Open Access Research article

Double feature selection and cluster analyses in mining of microarray data from cotton

Magdy S Alabady1, Eunseog Youn2 and Thea A Wilkins1*

Author Affiliations

1 Functional Genomics Lab, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409, USA

2 Department of Computer Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:295  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-295

Published: 20 June 2008

Abstract

Background

Cotton fiber is a single-celled seed trichome of major biological and economic importance. In recent years, genomic approaches such as microarray-based expression profiling were used to study fiber growth and development to understand the developmental mechanisms of fiber at the molecular level. The vast volume of microarray expression data generated requires a sophisticated means of data mining in order to extract novel information that addresses fundamental questions of biological interest. One of the ways to approach microarray data mining is to increase the number of dimensions/levels to the analysis, such as comparing independent studies from different genotypes. However, adding dimensions also creates a challenge in finding novel ways for analyzing multi-dimensional microarray data.

Results

Mining of independent microarray studies from Pima and Upland (TM1) cotton using double feature selection and cluster analyses identified species-specific and stage-specific gene transcripts that argue in favor of discrete genetic mechanisms that govern developmental programming of cotton fiber morphogenesis in these two cultivated species. Double feature selection analysis identified the highest number of differentially expressed genes that distinguish the fiber transcriptomes of developing Pima and TM1 fibers. These results were based on the finding that differences in fibers harvested between 17 and 24 day post-anthesis (dpa) represent the greatest expressional distance between the two species. This powerful selection method identified a subset of genes expressed during primary (PCW) and secondary (SCW) cell wall biogenesis in Pima fibers that exhibits an expression pattern that is generally reversed in TM1 at the same developmental stage. Cluster and functional analyses revealed that this subset of genes are primarily regulated during the transition stage that overlaps the termination of PCW and onset of SCW biogenesis, suggesting that these particular genes play a major role in the genetic mechanism that underlies the phenotypic differences in fiber traits between Pima and TM1.

Conclusion

The novel application of double feature selection analysis led to the discovery of species- and stage-specific genetic expression patterns, which are biologically relevant to the genetic programs that underlie the differences in the fiber phenotypes in Pima and TM1. These results promise to have profound impacts on the ongoing efforts to improve cotton fiber traits.