Stomata are tiny pores on the surfaces of plant leaves that allow the exchange of gases between the plant and the atmosphere. Plants control the apertures of these pores in response to environmental factors so that they can maximize uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (for sugar production in photosynthesis) while minimizing water loss to the atmosphere. Because the exchange of these gases is critically important to plant productivity and water use in natural and agricultural systems, it is important to understand the processes that control stomatal apertures. This project will explore the mechanisms by which stomata respond to light, carbon dioxide, temperature, and atmospheric humidity. In particular, the project will test several novel hypotheses that provide simple explanations for a complex suite of responses to these environmental factors that are not well explained by previously proposed mechanisms. In addition, the idea that interactions among individual stomata may function as a type of primitive information processing will be explored. Much of the work in the proposal is highly interdisciplinary, and students will benefit from the combined expertise of the two Principal Investigators: a biologist and physicist. The PIs will also collaborate to teach a new, interdisciplinary, undergraduate course entitled 'Dynamics, Information, and Multicellularity', which will cover information processing and emergent behavior in artificial and natural systems and the role of information processing in the development of multicellular organisms. The improved mechanistic understanding of stomatal responses to the environment that will result from this project will aid in producing more water-efficient crops, and in addition, because water loss through stomata is important for global circulation models, it will provide better predictive models for weather and the effects of global climate change.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1122003
Program Officer
Irwin Forseth
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-09-01
Budget End
2014-08-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$524,502
Indirect Cost
Name
Utah State University
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Logan
State
UT
Country
United States
Zip Code
84322