September 10, Tue 2013
1:00 pm, MRB 200 Conference Room
Dr. June Kwak
Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland
Global climate change, Drought, and Agriculture: Genetic dissection and systems analysis of cell-type specific networks to tackle plant’s response to drought
Water stress is one of the major environmental problems causing a severe reduction in agricultural production. Fresh water scarcity is one of the major global problems in this century. As global temperatures rise, we will encounter increased variability in amounts and distribution of precipitation, increased water demand, and enhanced susceptibility to drought. This will result in profound impacts on global fresh water resources, 65% of which are used for agriculture. Therefore, the use of water stress tolerant crops could lead to a reduction in agricultural losses under drought. In addition, improved efficiency in fresh water use could result from decreasing water consumption of plants by manipulating crops to have reduced transpiration or require less water. In my laboratory, we investigate the signaling network involved in drought response to provide new insights into cellular mechanisms regulating water stress response in plants. More specifically, we use genetic and systems analysis to dissect cell-type specific networks to tackle plant’s response to drought and the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA). In addition to our effort to genetically dissect ABA signaling in guard cells using various Arabidopsis mutants for specific molecular components, we are currently focusing on analysis of the cellular activity and gene expression in canola guard cells that influence how plants respond to drought that causes serious damage to crops. We believe that translation of knowledge and results arising from our research will help to develop practical universal strategies for improving drought tolerance in a variety of crop species.