This action funds a National Plant Genome Initiative Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for FY 2012. The fellowship supports a research and training plan in a host laboratory for the Fellow to focus her studies in plant genomics with an emphasis on quantitative genetics, modern breeding approaches, and bioinformatics. The title of the research and training plan for this fellowship to Malia A. Gehan is "Improving Environmental Stress Tolerance in the Grass Model, Brachypodium distachyon." The host institution for the fellowship is the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the sponsoring scientist is Dr. Todd Mockler.
This project focuses on temperature perception and stress (cold and heat) under circadian regulation in Brachypodium distachyon, a model plant for wheat and other important food and biofuel crops. The specific aims include 1) transcriptional profiling of B. distachyon across a range of stress and sub-optimal temperatures; 2) prioritizing transcription factor genes for misexpression in B. distachyon by filtering differentially expressed genes found in Objective 1 by their circadian patterns; 3) assessing the responses of misexpression lines to various abiotic stresses; and 4) identifying additional targets of temperature-responsive genes using yeast one-hybrid, ChIP-seq, and microarrays to develop comprehensive gene networks.
Training objectives include bioinformatics and plant genomics. Broader impacts include capacity-building and advanced training for students from the United States to engage in interdisciplinary research in plant improvement and associated sciences such as physiology, quantitative genetics, and computational biology. Outreach focuses on developing an online-accessible teaching module based on this research. Assessments and improvements of the teaching module, made throughout the duration of this fellowship, will be documented online.