Project Number: 2036-61000-019-017-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Sep 15, 2023
End Date: Sep 14, 2026
Determine impacts of irrigation water quality and Genetics x Environment x Management interactions on crop salt tolerance and drought resistance for the purpose of enabling enhanced management of water and soil resources.
Crop yields are a function of soil-plant relations, or more precisely of genetics × environment × management (G × E × M) interactions. Increasing crop yields and ensuring future food security will require management practices that use new technologies and data analytics to optimize G × E × M interactions over space (S) and time (T). In western irrigated agriculture, water quality and soil salinity are key factors impacting G × E × M × S × T interactions. With agriculture increasingly looking to alternative sources of water such as wastewaters, water quality concerns involve not just salinity but potentially a variety of chemicals of emerging concern. This cross-disciplinary (water, plants, soil) project will investigate G × E × M × S × T interactions for the purposes of informing management decision-making, sustaining or enhancing productivity, and enabling more efficient, precise management of water and soil resources. In this project, the complex mechanisms that lead to salt tolerance in crops such as alfalfa, spinach, guar, and almond will be investigated. Different genotypes will be screened for their resilience to salt (E × M), and a connection between their physiological performance and the underlying biological processes will be established. Global shifts in gene expression when exposed to salinity will be analyzed, allowing the identification of specific genes involved in salinity tolerance unique to each crop. The functional characterization of these salt-tolerance genes in response to irrigation and E × M interactions will be carried out in a widely recognized model system, Arabidopsis. Additionally, salt-responsive RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) will be examined, and their roles during salinity stress will be determined. Integrated physiological, biochemical, and molecular approaches will facilitate future gene discovery in G × E × M investigations utilizing wastewaters or other lower quality irrigation waters.