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UMD to lead $5 million NSF-funded research partnership to develop drought-tolerant canola crops
Date:10/25/2010

I don't think that you can have 100% control over the impact of drought, what if you can have 10 or 15 percent more control over this? It would mean a lot to farmers and to the nation's natural resources," Kwak says.

To accomplish their goal, investigators will analyze guard cell activities in response to drought, including dynamic changes in RNA molecules, proteins, and metabolites in the canola plant and develop a genome scale view to understand how cellular networks and hormones regulate the plant's reaction under low water conditions. These data sets will be used, together with advanced genome sequencing approaches, to map genetic lines in Brassica napus and to identify natural variation in sensitivity to drought and in the speed at which water evaporates from stoma. Models generated from integrating this genomic, bioinformatic, and proteomic information will provide important information and a blueprint for improving water use efficiency and resistance to drought in crops.

In addition to Kwak, five other biologists will contribute their expertise to this effort, including Sarah M. Assmann (Penn State University), Joel S. Bader (Johns Hopkins University), John K. McKay (Colorado State University), Scott C. Peck (University of Missouri, Columbia), and Julian Schroeder (University of California, San Diego).

Their collaboration should provide a much more comprehensive understanding of guard cell signaling than scientists have discovered to date.

"These analyses will lead to comprehensive data sets for environmental stress-induced changes that occur in guard cells. Initial studies using guard cell-specific genomic approaches have shown that this type of research leads to important advances and breakthroughs in understanding drought stress signaling in plants," says co-investigator Julian Schroeder.

These research activities will generate a new "systems biology" view of a single plant cell type that can be used to m
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Contact: Kelly Blake
kellyb@umd.edu
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert  

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UMD to lead $5 million NSF-funded research partnership to develop drought-tolerant canola crops
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