Navigation Links
National Science Foundation funds systems biology study of crop drought responses
Date:9/30/2009

Blacksburg, Va. An international team of researchers, led by Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Professor Andy Pereira, has been awarded a three-year, $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a systems biology approach to help combat the effects of drought on a variety of staple food crops.

Water scarcity, caused by factors such as climate change and rapid population growth, can limit crop production, especially when it occurs during essential periods of plant growth. Cereal crops such as maize, wheat, rice, and barley can be drastically affected by even slight water deficits at critical reproductive stages. Developing a more comprehensive understanding of drought and plants' complex responses to this environmental stress requires a global view of the multiple interactive components involved.

The goal of this three-year project, "Cereal drought stress response and resistance networks," is to develop a systems biology view of the drought responses of these cereal crops to aid in the dissection of these complex biological processes. The team will develop a cereal drought gene interaction network by integrating data from rice and maize to help identify key regulatory genes and signaling pathways that may be critical for improving drought resistance.

"Plants have complex mechanisms of acclimation and adaptation to respond to and survive environmental stresses, such as drought," Pereira explained. "Analysis of these protective mechanisms will provide insights into plant stress response and resistance. Our goal is to use the data from genome-wide comparative transcriptome analysis of drought responses in rice and maize to develop a network to help us identify how certain genes in plants regulate other genes. This combined bioinformatic and systems biology approach is a powerful way to find those genes that may be modified in some way to improve crop adaptability, which will contribute to the development of stable food production systems worldwide."

According to co-principal investigator and Virginia Tech Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science Professor Ruth Grene, "We have been afforded a marvelous opportunity to apply basic research methods to a pressing global problem. Specific information about drought tolerance in cereal crops can emerge from the application of the unique skill set of our team through the generation and unification of data across more scales of organization than was possible before."

"We will be looking at the functionality of select drought responsive genes, identified in the interaction network by transferring them into rice," explained co-principal investigator and Louisiana State University Agricultural Center Assistant Professor Niranjan Baisakh. "The modified rice plants will be evaluated for their growth responses to drought stress under greenhouse simulations that could help our understanding of rice plant biology in the field conditions."

Pennsylvania State University Plant Pathology Associate Professor Yinong Yang, also co-principal investigator on the project, added. "Drought stress response involves a complex network of signal transduction which is often mediated by reactive oxygen species, ion fluxes, protein phosphorylation, abscisic acid and other signaling processes. Determining the role of specific signaling pathways and elucidating their crosstalks or interrelationships in rice will help us understand the underlying mechanisms of cereal drought tolerance."

The project also includes the development of a cereal drought website, providing query and visualization tools that will allow project members and general users to explore project updates, methods, and results. The outreach components feature a mentoring program for postdoctoral researchers to facilitate career development, as well as a program designed to educate high school, undergraduate minority, and interdisciplinary graduate students in experimental biological sciences and computer science to explore topics closely tied to the project, such as climate change and sustainable environments. VBI's current NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure outreach project, "Cyberinfrastructure for Biological Researchers, Educators and Developers (CIBRED)," will help support the project's outreach efforts.

According to Oswald Crasta, project director of Virginia Bioinformatics Institute's Cyberinfrastructure Group, as well as co-principal investigator on the cereal drought stress response project and principal investigator of the CIBRED project, "This project provides an exciting opportunity to apply a systems approach for studying the impact of drought stress in cereals. We shall leverage the cyberinfrastructure and outreach resources for organization, analysis and dissemination of the data and the knowledge that will be generated through this project."

The project also includes international collaborations with CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) in Mexico and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.


'/>"/>

Contact: Susan Bland
subland@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-7912
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. IEEE-USA President endorses national innovation strategy
2. Synthetic Biology Project receives 2 National Science Foundation grants
3. National new biology initiative offers potential for remarkable and far-reaching benefits
4. International conference on endothelin
5. US National Academy of Sciences wins 2009 CAAT recognition award
6. International event brings worlds top cancer doctors to Queens
7. Forest Service to host 2nd International Conference on Forests and Water in a Changing Environment
8. EMBO pioneers pension plan for internationally mobile postdoctoral researchers
9. National assessment done on potential invasive snail and slug pests in US
10. Key OSU water research receives national funding
11. Results of national assessment of first responder location systems to be announced Aug. 3
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2016)... NEW YORK , May 16, 2016   ... authentication solutions, today announced the opening of an IoT ... to strengthen and expand the development of embedded ... provides an unprecedented level of convenience and security with ... to authenticate one,s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... 2016 Elevay is currently known ... freedom for high net worth professionals seeking travel for ... connected world, there is still no substitute for a ... sealing your deal with a firm handshake. This is ... advantage of citizenship via investment programs like those offered ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... FRANCISCO and BANGALORE, India , ... of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... provider, today announced a global partnership that will ... way to use mobile banking and payment services. ... is a key innovation area for financial services, but it ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016  Regular discussions on a range of subjects ... the two entities said Poloz. Speaking at a ... , he pointed to the country,s inflation target, which ... "In certain areas ... have common economic goals, why not sit down and address ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering ... retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Md. , June 23, 2016 A person ... from the crime scene to track the criminal down. ... the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA ... sequencing to support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEW YORK , June, 23, 2016  The ... students to envision new ways to harness living systems ... of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York ... more than 130 participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s ... included Paola Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: