Stomata function as hydraulic valves on the surface of leaves and regulate the fluxes of CO2 and water to and from the plant and determine how plants survive dry conditions. Although much physiological data is available on how stomata respond to environmental changes in light, CO2, and humidity, mechanisms are poorly understood. Currently we are using stomatal specific promoters to target enzymes of the carbon metabolism in the guard cells through antisense constructs. The aim is to get a better understanding of the physiology of stomatal movement with the longer term aim of manipulating stomatal conductance. We are also using Arabidopsis mutant screening to search for mutants with altered stomatal responses to light using thermal imaging of leaf temperature.
This work is funded by an ARC discovery grant (DP110103836).