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

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

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