Abstract: The root system of a plant performs vital functions including resource uptake when nutrient availability in soil is non-homogenous; while also providing a surface for interactions with beneficial microbes. Legume roots tolerate deficiency of the macronutrient Nitrogen by not only enhancing its direct uptake but also by establishing a unique symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria called rhizobia. Here I present findings that put genome-encoded small secreted peptides or ‘peptide hormones’ at the center-stage of N-acquisition in legumes. Our findings suggest that peptides likely provide a cheap, environmentally-friendly, non-GMO route to address current challenges of plant growth in nutrient-deprived soils.
Biography: Sonali Roy is a molecular geneticist working on Small Signaling Peptides in the model legume Medicago truncatula. She investigated the role of the plant hormone Auxin in root nodule symbiosis while completing her doctoral degree at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Noble Research Institute, USA, she identified several peptide hormone families involved in macronutrient regulation of root and nodule development. Sonali was appointed as Assistant Professor in January 2021 and continues pursuing her interests in regulatory molecules at the Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN where her lab studies peptide hormones with an emphasis on Nitrogen acquisition and root nodule symbiosis.