Plants are persistently challenged with numerous biotic and abiotic stresses. To cope, they have evolved an intricate network of mechanisms to link these stress response pathways. Identification of master regulators that prime these response pathways is fundamental to providing opportunities for developing broad-spectrum stress-tolerant plants. Recently, it was discovered that a novel plastid-produced stress-specific signaling metabolite, methylerythritol cyclodiphosphate (MEcPP), serves as a sensory hub that synchronizes multiple regulatory steps that are key to plant responses to environmental perturbations. This discovery has led to construction of a unique platform for identification of the general stress response regulators. The aims of this project are two-fold: 1) to identify the molecular and biochemical components engaged in the MEcPP signaling cascade that relay plastid-perceived stress signals to a central hub responsible for expression of key regulators of biotic and abiotic stress responses. 2) to identify the cellular interactomes that might connect the integrative network of sensory systems required for plants adaptive responses to multiple environmental stresses. As such, this project provides a unique opportunity to unambiguously identify and functionally characterize an ensemble of a general stress cluster of genes key to plant adaptive responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. This project provides a multidimensional educational platform for mentoring scholars and particularly underrepresented college and high school students in a vertically integrated state-of-the-art interdisciplinary translational research. The results of this project will be stored daily on the departmental server and widely disseminated through publications and public presentations, and all of the tools developed will be made available to the community. The global impact of this project is the development of new targets for generation of broad-spectrum stress-tolerant crops, thereby alleviating pressures caused by climate change and global food security.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
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Gerald Schoenknecht
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University of California Riverside
United States
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