Ninety-seven percent of Earth's water is saline and two-thirds of the existing fresh water deposit is locked away in snow and ice, leaving only one percent for human use. Since the majority of fresh water is used to grow food, the changing climate will challenge our food supply as drought events become more frequent and intense. Therefore, it is critical to develop a new generation of crops that can sustain productivity with reduced fresh water input. This project fills a significant gap in our understanding on how unfavorable environment perturbs seed development and ultimately affects plant productivity. Because seeds from cereals (such as rice, maize, and wheat) are the primary source of calories, and rice is an established model for cereals, this work will focus on how drought stress adversely affects early seed development in rice resulting in reduced seed size. Taking a molecular and biochemical approach, the project team will identify rice genes that are critical for normal seed development, but whose expression is altered by drought stress. This work will elucidate how seed, arguably the most economically important plant organ as food source, senses and adapts to a changing environment. This project will be important for developing future crops that are needed for mitigating and adapting to changing climate. The project will broaden participation in STEM workforce by training persons with disabilities. The PIs will work with the Office for Students with Disabilities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to recruit, and train qualified individuals into project research activities. This project will also contribute to The Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary, an online repository of science education materials, by building a new seed development module that is accessible for students with learning disabilities.