The work undertaken on this project is designed to make significant contributions to the goals of the 2010 program - to understand the networking and function of every gene in Arabidopsis. The specific focus of the project is on abiotic stress combinations and the genetic and metabolic networks that respond to stress combinations such as drought and heat, drought and salinity and salinity and heat. Abiotic stress is the primary cause of crop loss world-wide, with losses in the US estimated at 14-19 billion dollars each year. While abiotic stress is routinely studied in Arabidopsis by applying a single stress condition such as drought, salinity or heat, this type of analysis does not reflect the conditions that occur in the field where crop plants are subjected to a combination of different stresses. The central objective of the project is to identify novel genes, gene networks and metabolic pathways that specifically respond to a combination of two different abiotic stresses. The hypothesis to be tested is that dedicated genes, networks and pathways are activated in plants that are simultaneously exposed to two different stress conditions. This project is designed to bring Arabidopsis into the front line of applied research on abiotic stress tolerance, and bridge the gap between stress studies conducted with Arabidopsis in the lab and the conditions that impact crops in the field. The two key "Broader Impacts" of the proposed research are: 1) Development and maintenance of a centralized website that will bring together agronomists, breeders and Arabidopsis molecular biologists ( 2) Educational outreach for K-12 and multidisciplinary training to postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduates trainees. Both undergraduate and K-12 outreach and training activities will target the under privileged and under represented in Science. Historically, abiotic stress combinations, such as drought and heat, had the outmost devastating economical and sociological impacts on the US, with losses of 48.4 and 61.6 billion dollars in 1980 and 1988 respectively. The proposed project will pave the way for the development of crops with enhanced abiotic stress tolerance, contributing to ameliorate the consequences of future weather disasters that are likely to increase in frequency due to anticipated climatic changes.

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