The goal is to understand how plants sense their nutritional status with respect to the macronutrient sulfur (S). Plants are able to adjust their growth and physiology in response to the level of mineral nutrients available to them in soil. When nutrient level is low they become more efficient at nutrient utilization. Very little is known about how plants sense nutrients or even what exactly is sensed. The current project could set the stage for improving nutrient use efficiency thereby reducing the input costs and environmental impact associated with the use of fertilizers in agriculture.
A forward genetic approach has been used to identify a gene that is involved in S-sensing in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The project will use both genetic and molecular approaches to understand how the sensor functions. What is learned will be a breakthrough not only for the field of plant S-nutrition, but also for the larger field of nutrient receptors. The results from these activities will be disseminated at symposia, conferences and in journal publications. The genetic resources generated by the project will be made available to the research community.
This is a collaborative project between two institutions, Lehman College of the City University of New York, a federally designated Hispanic Institution, and Rutgers University. The project will recruit minority undergraduate students and high school teachers to participate in research at both institutions through an active exchange program. The aim is to use a provocative research project to stimulate the interest of students from minority groups to pursue careers in plant biology and to enhance the US competitiveness in science.