Publication Details (including relevant citation information):
Kathleen D. Cusick, Lisa A. Fitzgerald, Russell K. Pirlo, Allison L. Cockrell, Emily R. Petersen, and Justin C. Biffinger (2014) PLoS One 9(12): e112706
Neurospora crassa has served as a model organism for studying circadian pathways and more recently has gained attention in the biofuel industry due to its enhanced capacity for cellulase production. However, in order to optimize N. crassa for biotechnological applications, metabolic pathways during growth under different environmental conditions must be addressed. Reverse-transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) is a technique that provides a high-throughput platform from which to measure the expression of a large set of genes over time. The selection of a suitable reference gene is critical for gene expression studies using relative quantification, as this strategy is based on normalization of target gene expression to a reference gene whose expression is stable under the experimental conditions. This study evaluated twelve candidate reference genes for use with N. crassa when grown in continuous culture bioreactors under different light and temperature conditions. Based on combined stability values from NormFinder and Best Keeper software packages, the following are the most appropriate reference genes under conditions of: (1) light/dark cycling: btl, asl, and vma1; (2) all-dark growth: btl, tbp, vma1, and vma2; (3) temperature flux: btl, vma1, act, and asl; (4) all conditions combined: vma1, vma2, tbp, and btl. Since N. crassa exists as different cell types (uni- or multi-nucleated), expression changes in a subset of the candidate genes was further assessed using absolute quantification. A strong negative correlation was found to exist between ratio and threshold cycle (CT) values, demonstrating that CT changes serve as a reliable reflection of transcript, and not gene copy number, fluctuations. The results of this study identified genes that are appropriate for use as reference genes in RT-qPCR studies with N. crassa and demonstrated that even with the presence of different cell types, relative quantification is an acceptable method for measuring gene expression changes during growth in bioreactors.