EAGER: Plant Sensory Perception via Heme Modulation of K+ Channels

Project: Research project

Project Details


One of the major goals of plant biology is to find out how plant growth can be optimized to maximize crop production. The goal of this project is to develop a mechanistic understanding of how plants balance growth with water loss. The experiments described in this proposal will provide new insights into how crop plant production could be optimized under various growing conditions. The project relies on application to plant cells of techniques used in neuroscience in order determine how these cells respond to stimuli on the molecular level. Results of experiments performed on plants during the course of this project may in turn provide valuable information for future studies on how similar signaling pathways impact nervous system function in many different species of animals. The impact of these plant cellular responses on whole plant growth and water conservation will also be assessed. This innovative approach provides an unusual opportunity for students to gain cross-disciplinary training in both plant biology and neuroscience. The project will serve as a training ground for both graduate and undergraduate researchers, in some cases providing the latter with their very first research experience. Furthermore, it will support educational outreach efforts by the investigators targeted towards introducing science careers to underrepresented middle school and high school students.

The experiments outlined in this proposal are specifically targeted at defining the molecular mechanism(s) through which cellular oxidation state and gaseous messengers regulate plant guard cell K+ channels and stomatal apertures. The opening and closing of stomata by guard cells is mediated in large part by these channels and is sensitive to oxidation state and gases. However, the molecular pathways that connect these cellular signals to changes in K+ channel activity are not yet known. In this project, the investigators will test a novel hypothesis that oxidation state and gaseous messengers regulate K+ channel activity directly through a prosthetic group integral to the channels themselves. The hypothesis is based on the finding that gating of many CNBD family cation channels, including these plant K+ channels and several important classes of animal CNBD family channels, is regulated by similar prosthetic groups.

Effective start/end date3/15/162/29/20


  • National Science Foundation: $224,275.00


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