Flooding events significantly damage agricultural production in the US and elsewhere. The development of crop cultivars that can survive short-term flooding can help stabilize and increase food production. The recent recognition of rice varieties tolerant to short-term flooding has led to the identification of the submergence tolerance regulator gene called SUB1A. The precise genetic characterization of SUB1A has allowed breeders to develop new high-yielding rice varieties with submergence tolerance that are now grown in flood-prone fields of South and Southeast Asia. This project will continue the molecular characterization of SUB1A and seek new submergence regulators that act earlier in development. Rice plants that can survive flooding during seed germination can reduce labor cost and herbicide use. The effectiveness of combining SUB1A with the recently identified ANAEROBIC GERMINATION 1 (AG1) gene will be explored in rice. Additionally, the characterization of molecular responses to flooding will be extended to corn, a vital grain crop that is flooding sensitive. These analyses will examine genetic variation in anaerobic germination and submergence tolerance in maize as well as profile and manipulate molecular responses to these stresses. The results will provide a greater understanding of sensing, signaling and response mechanisms to flooding during seed germination and vegetative growth in rice and maize. The research will be carried out at a Hispanic Serving institution. Postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate researchers will receive cross-disciplinary training in physiology, molecular biology, analytical chemistry and systems biology in a multicultural laboratory and institute environment. The development and dissemination of a science-learning module will allow 8th graders, many from underrepresented groups, at Title I schools to participate in hands-on science experiments demonstrating the significance of plant biology research on food security and sustainable agriculture. The knowledge obtained from this project will favorably impact food, feed and fuel production in the US and elsewhere.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
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Sarah Wyatt
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University of California Riverside
United States
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