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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Plant Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #434268

Research Project: Collaborative Research: Dimensions: Desiccation and Diversity in Dryland Mosses

Location: Plant Genetics Research

Project Number: 5070-21000-041-07-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2017
End Date: Dec 31, 2019

The overall objective is to build an integrated understanding of the the role of desiccation tolerance, developmental phases, and reproductive tradeoffs in structuring patterns of biodiversity in dryland mosses. Specific objectives. 1) Define the genetic mechanisms underlying traits (including phenotypic plasticity) that drive diversification, reproduction, habitat selection, and physiological processes. 2) Determine genetic diversity, clonal vigor, and sex ratio compare among populations inhabiting environments with varying degrees of water stress. Could tradeoffs between DT and sexual reproduction have shaped these diversity patterns? 3) Investigate functional diversity of desiccation tolerance evident among lineages and do these differences vary by life phase or sex, providing evidence for fitness tradeoffs over evolutionary time scales? 4) Define the phylogenetic history of Syntrichia suggest diversification (possibly convergent) in physiological traits, OR conservation of physiology and subsequent colonization of suitable environments by specialized lineages 5) Define if high levels of genetic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity improve the resilience of moss dominated biocrusts to climate change. The objectives that the ARS is addressing are 1 and 2 but with input into the other objectives.

The main questions to be addressed center around three related processes: vegetative growth, reproduction (sexual and asexual), and desiccation tolerance, plus the various ecological and evolutionary trade-offs among these processes. We will examine different levels of function from genomics, to lab measurements of physiology, to growth, development, and performance in culture, to cryptogamic crust community relationships (including relationships with other mosses, lichens, and bluegreens, effects of disturbance, and climate change). The ARS portion of the research is focused on the genomics resources required for understanding the role of desiccation tolerance in these processes and identifying key components in this phenotype. We will prepare draft nuclear genomes of S. caninervis, S. ruralis, and S. norvegica. With the help of a collaborator, the ARS scientist will develop the bioinformatics infrastructure and databases for use within the project. We will characterize and compare the transcriptomes of different development stages and sexes of all three species under desiccation stress and develop qPCR based signature transcriptomic assays.