Molecular mechanisms underlying growth and defense in plants

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Project Description

When attacked by pathogens, plants allocate their energy and resources into defense responses at the expense of growth. Hence, understanding the mechanisms by which plants prioritize their responses is instrumental for improving plant defense and growth and consequently increasing crop yield. Recently, we have established a link between the defense hormone Jasmonic Acid (JA) and a transcription factor pathway with key roles in development. We have found that the developmental regulators BIRD proteins mediate Jasmonic acid defense response through interacting with core JA signaling pathway genes. The project aims to dissect the molecular framework underlying the dual function of these protein complexes. The identified signaling networks and pathways can then be rewired to allow simultaneous growth and defense. we will use the following tools: RNAseq, genome editing tools, fluorescence microscopy imaging amd a range methods for detecting protein-protein interactions in vitro and in vivo.
Program - Plant Science
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Center for Desert Agriculture
Field of Study - ​Developmental biology, cell biology

About the
Researcher

Ikram Blilou

Professor, Plant Science<br/>Chair, Plant Science Program

Ikram Blilou

Blilou's Plant Cell and Developmental Biology research group concentrates on understanding plant developmental processes while focusing on their root system architecture. The date palm, mangrove, and Sodom apple species have shaped their roots to cope with scarce water, high salinity, and poor nutrient availability, characteristics which can be exploited to engineer more resilient crops for arid environments. By revealing strategies employed by the date palm to survive in arid conditions, Blilou's team establishes genetic tools that allow date palms to grow faster, healthier, and with roots that require even less water. LPCDB also studies the regulatory networks that control protein movement and asymmetric cell division in plant roots.

Desired Project Deliverables

​The gained knowledge will be used to generate resistant crops with optimal growth behavior using genome editing tools.​