Plant immune responses are greatly modulated by environmental signals including temperature, and this modulation is an adaptive mechanism for a balanced environmental response and plant growth. There is limited knowledge on how temperature is perceived and how it regulates plant immune responses. This project will identify targets of temperature on immune responses and reveal major strategies plants use to tune immunity to temperature. This project will enhance the prediction power of climate change on plant growth and defense and will provide guidance in breeding crop plants that have a balanced growth and defense for the changing environment. The project will integrate education with research for undergraduate students including minorities at and outside Cornell through various programs including NSF Plant Genome REU Site. One of the four aims of the project will be conducted mostly by undergraduates. This project will also provide a broad training to a postdoctoral fellow and a graduate student in research and teaching assisted by the NSF ?Center for the integration of research, teaching, and learning? program. Discoveries generated from this project will be disseminated through journal publications, conference presentations and classroom teaching, thus contributing to the advancement of science.
The goal of this project is to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying temperature modulation of immune receptor R-mediated immune responses. Earlier studies revealed that R proteins could function as temperature sensors and deficiency of abscisic acid antagonizes the high temperature effects on R proteins. This project will first further reveal how temperature and abscisic acid regulate the activity of R proteins to affect immunity. This will be achieved by dissecting the regulation through genetic screens using Arabidopsis autoimmune plants. Mutants with altered temperature sensitivity in immune responses will be isolated and cloned, and the mode of gene action will be investigated. This project will also reveal the genetic basis of variation of temperature sensitivity of immunity in natural populations. This will be achieved by surveying wild Arabidopsis accessions for their temperature sensitivities in disease resistance. Major loci determining the temperature sensitivity will be isolated. With identification of mode of regulation of R proteins by temperature and ABA as well as major strategies in tuning immunity to temperature signals, this project will reveal new mechanisms of signal sensing and signal integration and provide strategies to generate plants with optimal responses to a changing environment.