The sensing and signalling of mechanical stress by roots- Genetic regulation of root: shoot communication and function under drought

A developing plant root. Photo by Angela Norris

Description

Roots as environmental sensors and signalling agents to aerial meristems, expanding leaves and stomata.

Roots have evolved sensitive mechanisms for sensing variations in their environment and effective local and long-distance signalling mechanisms. We study the sensing and signalling of root mechanical stress, a condition inevitably associated with soil drought. We examine the developmental and functional responses it triggers in roots and leaves. We have identified a range of mechano-sensitive genes that fall in a range of functional groups including signalling, trafficking, meristem function, root development, carbon metabolism and wall synthesis.

We are currently characterising some of those genes through the study of a range of mutants and genetic material, using both Arabidopsis and cereal species as model systems. Of special interest amomg them, are fundamental core components conserved across kingdoms, as well as genes involved in a cross-talk bewteen biotic and abiotic stress.

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