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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Plant Physiology and Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #434527

Research Project: Molecular Genetic and Proximal Sensing Analyses of Abiotic Stress Response and Oil Production Pathways in Cotton, Oilseeds, and Other Industrial and Biofuel Crops

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Project Number: 2020-21000-013-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 26, 2018
End Date: Mar 25, 2023

Objective:
Objective 1: Characterize the molecular and physiological mechanisms governing crop response to heat and drought, including interactions, to use the information to identify and verify new genes and molecular markers useful for plant breeding. Sub-objective 1A: Characterize the physiological and genetic mechanisms governing wax content and composition and heat shock proteins in cotton, under heat and drought conditions. Sub-objective 1B: Characterize the physiological and genetic mechanisms governing wax content and composition and aquaporins in oilseeds, under heat and drought conditions. Objective 2: Develop and validate field-based, high-throughput phenotyping strategies for rapid assessment of crop responses to heat and drought, including evaluation and validation of sensors, proximal sensing vehicles, and methods of data capture, storage, analysis, and interpretations. Sub-objective 2A: Develop and deploy novel sensing platforms, sensor calibration devices, and sensor validation protocols for field-based high-throughput phenotyping. Sub-objective 2B: Develop a database that can be queried, and a geospatial data processing pipeline for proximal sensing and imaging data collected from terrestrial platforms for field-based high-throughput phenotyping. Objective 3: Characterize the molecular mechanisms of oil accumulation in agriculturally important plants under various inclement conditions, including heat and drought conditions, to identify and verify new genes and molecular markers to increase oil yields in both food and bioenergy crop plants. Sub-objective 3A: Characterize the molecular and physiological mechanisms governing seed number, size, and weight for oilseeds and biofuel crops in response to heat and drought stress conditions. Sub-objective 3B: Characterize the function of lipid droplet-associated proteins (LDAPs) and identify new genes involved in abiotic stress responses and oil production pathways in plants. Sub-objective 3C: Use transgenic and gene-editing approaches to increase oil content and abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants.

Approach:
A variety of experimental approaches including phenomics and associated “big data” management, field studies of cotton and camelina, genomics, and the molecular and biochemical studies of the model plant Arabidopsis, as well as camelina, Brassica napus, and cotton are involved. Objective 1: To characterize the physiological and genetic mechanisms governing crop response to heat and drought, cotton and Brassica napus plants will be examined for genetic variability of these traits using conventional and high-throughput phenotyping approaches to determine canopy temperature, cuticular wax content and composition, and leaf chlorophyll content. A transcriptomics approach will be used to determine if known genes involved in wax or chlorophyll biosynthesis are underpinning the observed phenotypes, and ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing will be conducted with either PacBio or Illumina HiSeq technology. Objective 2: To develop and validate field-based high-throughput phenotyping (FB-HTP) strategies for assessment of crop responses to heat and drought, novel platforms and sensor arrays, including carts, small robots and imagery, will be tested in cotton fields grown under high heat or drought stress. The FB-HTP collected traits will be assessed for accuracy and consistency using in-field calibration targets and ground truthing measurements. Semi-automated pipelines and databases will be developed to process and manage the data for statistical analysis of crop response to the environmental conditions. Objective 3: To characterize the molecular and physiological mechanisms governing seed development and lipid-droplet-associated proteins (LDAPs) in biofuel crops, candidate gene-based and transgenic approaches will be used to examine the model system Arabidopsis and camelina. Gene function will be characterized using a combination of forward and reverse genetic approaches, coupled with cellular and biochemical studies of protein activity. Oil production in response to abiotic stress tolerance will be studied by examining the function of LDAPs and other lipid-related proteins in leaves and seeds of plants. Transgenic approaches will be used to increase oil content and abiotic stress tolerance in camelina.