Nurturing a seed of discovery

August 9, 2011, Northeastern University

(PhysOrg.com) -- Network scientists at Northeastern University have collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues in cell biology and interactive data acquisition to create the first large-scale map of a plant’s protein network.

The results of the study were published in the July 29 issue of Science magazine.

The team’s research findings — which could eventually be applied to treating human diseases, such as cancer — shed light on the interactions among proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana, which serves as a model organism in plant biology.

“Creating this is a significant building block to understanding plants in general and learning more about the biological similarities between plants and animals,” said world-renowned network scientist Albert-László Barabási, a Distinguished Professor of Physics with joint appointments in biology and the College of Computer and Information Science. Barabási is also the founding director of Northeastern’s world-leading Center for Complex Network Research.

Barabási, and three postdoctoral research associates in his lab — Yong-Yeol Ahn, Gourab Ghoshal and Sabrina Rabello — were part of the project’s bioinformatics and analysis group. Researchers at Harvard Medical School, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Computing at Imperial College in London also contributed to the study.

Northeastern’s contribution to the paper builds upon earlier research featured in a June 2010 issue of Nature magazine, in which postdoctoral research associates in Barabási’s lab developed a mathematical algorithm to identify communities in complex networks, including major biological networks and large-scale social networks.

In this case, Barabási and his colleagues used the algorithm to comb the map for communities of interconnected proteins that share in the same biological function. Researchers found more than two-dozen such communities.

The findings offer researchers a sneak peak at the evolutionary process within networks of plant proteins. As Barabási put it, “The communities were not random and each had a dominant function that did not emerge by chance.”

Explore further: A cellular roadmap for medical researchers

Related Stories

A cellular roadmap for medical researchers

January 6, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Advances in network science to map the complexity of human cells promises to offer significant new resources for health professionals striving to cure disease, according to a new paper coauthored by Albert-László ...

Getting inside the control mechanisms of complex systems

May 13, 2011

Northeastern University researchers are offering a fascinating glimpse into how greater control of complex systems, such as cellular networks and social media, can be achieved by merging the tools of network science and control ...

Northeastern researchers made the call on 'zombie virus'

November 16, 2010

Northeastern University researchers predicted last year that major Smartphone viruses will become a real threat to devices such as Blackberrys and iPhones once a particular operating system approaches a 10 percent market ...

In an emergency, word spreads fast and far

April 4, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Large-scale emergencies, such as bombings and plane crashes, trigger a sharp spike in the number of phone calls and text messages sent by eyewitnesses in the vicinity of the disaster, according to a research ...

Doing the math on where people go

September 15, 2010

Network scientists at Northeastern University have created a mathematical model that can simulate human mobility over the course of several months or even years.

Human behavior is 93 percent predictable, research shows

February 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Human behavior is 93 percent predictable, a group of leading Northeastern University network scientists recently found. Distinguished Professor of Physics Albert-László Barabási and his ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough study shows how plants sense the world

January 19, 2018

Plants lack eyes and ears, but they can still see, hear, smell and respond to environmental cues and dangers—especially to virulent pathogens. They do this with the aid of hundreds of membrane proteins that can sense microbes ...

Microbial communities demonstrate high turnover

January 19, 2018

When Mark Twain famously said "If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes," he probably didn't anticipate MIT researchers would apply his remark to their microbial research. But a new study does ...

Hot weather is bad news for bird sperm

January 19, 2018

A new study led by Macquarie University and spanning Sydney and Oslo has shown that exposure to extreme temperatures, such as those experienced during heatwave conditions, significantly reduces sperm quality in zebra finches, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.