Next-generation RNA Sequencing to Untangle Plant Responses to Nutrient Deficiencies
Principal Investigator : Claudia Uhde-Stone
, Professor, Biological Sciences, California State University, East Bay
Abstract : Plants require nutrients, such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and iron, for growth and development. Phosphorus is one of the most limiting nutrients for crop production worldwide. Phosphorus fertilizer is usually applied as rock phosphate, a non-renewable resource which, by some estimates, may be depleted in 100-300 years. In order to develop crop plants that can grow with less fertilizer, researchers are taking a closer look at plants that are well adapted to nutrient-poor soils. White lupin can grow in poor soils where other plants can’t grow, and has become a model plant for the study of plant adaptations to nutrient deficiency. Still, not much is known about the processes by which white lupin senses nutrient deficiencies and initiates responses. Elevated sucrose (sugar) transport from shoot to root appears to act as long-distance signal, initiating nutrient starvation responses in the root. However, sucrose may not specify which nutrient stress the plant is experiencing. We hypothesize that sucrose acts as a general nutrient starvation signal, and that additional signals are needed to communicate the specific nature of the nutrient deficiency. To untangle general and specific nutrient starvation responses, we propose to use next-generation RNA sequencing, a powerful tool for high-throughput analysis of gene expression (i.e. gene activity). Understanding how white lupin senses nutrient deficiencies and integrates specific and general nutrient starvation responses should be useful for developing plants that require less fertilizer while offering improved nutritional value for human consumption.