PS PhD Exit Seminar - Wheat Growth in a Changing World: Genetic and Environmental Drivers of Variation in Leaf Respiration

Abstract: Global crop yields per hectare have plateaued in recent years while consumption and population continue to grow. The annual rate of increase in agricultural output falls markedly short of meeting projected demand. Rising global temperatures affect the underlying biological reactions that support crop growth; at the same time, climate change is increasing frequency of extreme weather events and disrupting global food supply. Therefore, it is imperative we find new strategies to increase yield in a changing world. One area that presents a target for improvement is the efficiency with which crops convert atmospheric carbon into biomass—specifically, photosynthesis and respiration. Using wheat as a model system, and employing automated high-throughput equipment for phenotyping, this seminar will explore the role of genotypes and environmental conditions on variation in leaf respiration and associated growth traits. I will describe leaf respiration of eight wheat genotypes grown in a common ANU glasshouse; the impact of different light treatments on starch degradation as a possible explanation for variation in respiration; and finally, the effect of increased day or night temperatures on whole-plant traits. Ultimately, the goal is to identify varieties with high respiratory efficiency and high growth as a means of increasing yield.

Biography: Andy comes from small-town McAllen, Texas. He completed a B.A. in Environmental Science and Evolutionary Biology in 2017 at Columbia University in the City of New York. His fourth-year project inspected inhibition of leaf respiration in the light. From there, Andy came to the Atkin lab in February 2018.