RESEARCH PROJECT : Roots of land plants respond to various stimuli, some of which are fixed in direction and intensity while others change in time, space, direction, and intensity. The tendency of roots to grow in the direction of high water potential is referred to as hydrotropism. This response has a crucial role in establishing the architecture of the root system, and therefore has implications on the ability of plants to survive under limiting water conditions, as well as the ability to cope with a variety of modern irrigation strategies. However, the molecular – genetic basis of hydrotropism is essentially unknown.
In the proposed research, molecular – genetic approaches will be combined with physiological and developmental investigations of roots to decipher the mechanisms underlying the hydrotropic response of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The research will include the following approaches: (1) Genetic investigations through the isolation of mutants lacking a hydrotropic response, (2) Molecular approaches to identify genes that are up- or down-regulated in response to a hydrotropic stimulus, using microarrays, (3) Physiological investigations of mutants in different artificial media and in response to water stress (4) Investigation of the root architecture of hydrotropic mutants growing in soil under different irrigation regimes. The proposed research will contribute to future strategies for improving water acquisition by crops.
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