Microarrays are used to measure simultaneously the amount of mRNAs transcribed from many genes. They were originally designed for gene expression profiling in relatively simple biological systems, such as cell lines and model systems under constant laboratory conditions. This poses a challenge to ecologists who increasingly want to use microarrays to unravel the genetic mechanisms underlying complex interactions among organisms and between organisms and their environment. Here, we discuss typical experimental and statistical problems that arise when analyzing genome-wide expression profiles in an ecological context. We show that experimental design and environmental confounders greatly influence the identification of candidate genes in ecological microarray studies, and that following several simple recommendations could facilitate the analysis of microarray data in ecological settings.
J. Kammenga, M. Herman, N. Ouborg
Trends in ecology & evolution