Currently there remains an incomplete understanding of how genomic information translates into organismal phenotypes, how environmental signals alter the flow of molecular information, and how biology's hierarchical organization of genomic information impacts information processing and genome dynamics over short and long-periods of time. This project integrates biological and mathematical methods to model and investigate mechanisms through which genomic information responds to change across multiple scales. Using statistical-physics and analytical methods typically applied to characterizing fractal-properties of non-biological systems, investigators explore the complex interdependency between chromosome organization, genome activity and genome evolution. Results of the work will further understanding of the genome-to-phenome relationship and spatiotemporal cross-dependencies governing the fungal genomic architecture. Through an immersive laboratory exchange program students participating in the project will receive a unique interdisciplinary training experience at the intersection of biology and mathematics. Investigators will also engage various cohorts of learners through the University of Southern California's Viterbi Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) and Kansas State University's Girls Researching Our World (GROW) programs.

There is a great need to decode the complex interdependency between chromosome organization, genome activity and genome evolution and understand the genome-to-phenome relationships modulated by biological processes that span multiple spatial and temporal scales. The interdisciplinary team of investigators will use multi-fractal analysis, statistical physics and differential geometry to model and identify causal links in information processing across high-dimensional data describing chromatin dynamics. Key research objectives of the project include: 1) Development of a mathematical framework that integrates multidimensional genomic information in order to quantify the multi-scale nature of genome structure and predict the phenomenological consequences associated with temporally and environmentally driven genomic modulation; 2) Determination of the information processing machinery and multi-scale characterization of the flow of genetic information in concordance to changes in genome organization and environmental stress; 3) Using the mathematical framework developed, investigate whether DNA changes are purely random or if and to what extent physical, chemical and environmental stressors inform the formation of genomic regions of high evolvability. Outcomes of this project will provide insight into broader organizational principles of fungal and eukaryotic genomes.

This award was co-funded by Systems and Synthetic Biology in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences and the Mathematical Biology Program of the Division of Mathematical Sciences.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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Kansas State University
United States
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