Presenter: Chengsong Hu
Advisor: Dr. Joshua Blakeslee
Proposal Type: PhD proposal
Title: Lipid and hormonal regulation of salt stress responses in rice roots
Abstract: Rice is produced all over the world and is the primary food grain for more than fifty percent of the world’s population. Unfortunately, however, rice production is increasingly affected by soil salinization, resulting in yield losses, lost revenues, and decreased global food security. Salt stress responses involve perception of the abiotic stress, followed by response (hormonal production/transport, gene induction, etc.), and finally by adaptive growth. Phosphatidic acid (PA), a lipid signaling molecule and important component of plant membranes, has been linked to early salt stress perception and downstream responses. Recent research has shown that PA binds protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and functions in PP2A-mediated regulation of multiple hormone response pathways, including transport of the phytohormone auxin. While the bulk of this work has been done in Arabidopsis, we hypothesize that similar mechanisms are conserved in monocot crops. This research will (i) characterize the role of lipid signaling in regulating PP2A activity in response to salt stress in rice roots; and (ii) characterize the role of lipid signaling in altering auxin transport following salt stress. By defining the mechanisms involved in early salt stress perception and the resultant signaling cascades in rice, the project will develop rice as a model system for investigating the biochemical basis of salt stress responses in monocot roots. Further, the research will identify key resistance traits (for example, the ability to re-allocate hormone pools following abiotic stresses) useful as targets for either breeding or genetic engineering approaches designed to increase monocot production in saline environments.