2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Regents of the University of California (Cooperator) desire to collaborate in plant gene expression research. To accomplish this objective, ARS and the Cooperator have established an entity called the Plant Gene Expression Center (PGEC). The mission of the PGEC is to perform fundamental research using modern molecular and genetic strategies to understand the basic processes and mechanisms controlling plant growth, development and survival, and based on that understanding, to develop the molecular tools and materials that can be exploited by plant geneticists and breeders to generate superior crop plants and address agriculturally important problems. To accomplish this mission, PGEC scientists will interface with individuals and organizations who propose to utilize the molecular tools and materials developed at the PGEC.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
1. The PGEC conducts research in the complex biology of plant gene expression and develops the technology required by plant geneticists and breeders for the timely production of superior crop plants.
2. The PGEC comprises a Director, a University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Scientific Director, a core of Principal Investigators who are ARS employees, and support staff. The Director is an ARS employee who is responsible for the ARS program and resources and reports to the ARS Pacific West Area Director. The UCB Scientific Director is a University of California at Berkeley faculty member who is responsible for the UCB program and resources who reports to the Dean, College of Natural Resources, UCB, and who shall be appointed by the Dean for a five-year term.
3. The research program of the PGEC shall be determined by mutual consent of ARS, based on the mandate of Congress and the ARS National Programs, and the Cooperator through their respective representatives. The Principal Investigators shall select the research strategies, methodological procedures, and research organisms deemed most appropriate on scientific grounds to accomplish the mission of the PGEC.
These accomplishments relates to the parent project, 5335-21000-042-00D, in connecting networks between growth and environmental response. ARS scientists made significant advances in identifying components of the regulatory networks involved in how plants grow and perceive their environment. They identified a key modifier of fruit patterning activity in Arabidopsis. They also identified stem cell signaling proteins in the rice (Oryza sativa) genomic sequence database, as well as in the maize genome sequence database. Another key accomplishment was the first comprehensive analysis of circadian clock-driven gene expression in maize and detailed analysis of genes that regulate flowering time in maize. The circadian clock analysis is also being carried out under drought conditions. A third key accomplishment was the discovery of gene(s) that regulate maize growth and respond to the environment. A fourth accomplishment is progress in characterizing a pollen specific transcription factor. Plants that are mutant in this gene have reduced seed set, implicating this transcription factor in controlling processes required for correct double fertilization. A fifth accomplishment was progress in understanding of the virulence mechanisms of bacteria that infect plants and the innate mechanisms in disease resistance. A final accomplishment was a detailed understanding of the role of phytocrome and interacting partners in seedling emergence. The overall impact of these many accomplishments is that a number of novel regulatory genes that affect plant biomass and yield were identified and their functions analyzed, benefiting agriculture by facilitating the characterization and manipulation of related genes in many crop plant species.