Quantifying stress response Brassica rapa genotypes

Advisor: Dr. Scott Mackay (Department of Geography)
Other Mentors: Jonathan Pleban (doctoral candidate Department of Geography  & ERIE Program)
Primary Activities: Greenhouse and garden scale drought experiment, plant physiological modeling, data analysis

Project Summary: This projects aim is to investigate the role of plant trait differences on differential tolerance to environmental stresses, such as drought. An approach could use some combination of measurements on a model species with genetic variants and/or detailed plant physiological modeling. An anticipated experimental design would use modeling along with measured plant properties to identify genotype specific responses to a stressor. The model plant to be used is Brassica rapa, which is a common agricultural crop consisting of various cultivated subspecies. Simulation modeling will be used to support the investigation of trait differences between genotypes that infer differential stress tolerance. As an example, in greenhouse and potentially garden scale experiments plants will subject to physiological stress through experimental droughts. Physiological measurements will be taken throughout the experimental period using instrumentation, such as the LiCOR 6400 infrared gas analyzer, pressure bombing, and air injection to obtain vulnerability to cavitation curves of xylem conduits.  Data from the experimentation may then be used to model the response of the plants to gain insights into morphological and physiological traits that infer greater stress tolerance including water use efficiency. This project presents a mix of experimental design and associated instrumentation with computer modeling possible after data acquisition is complete. Experimental work will occur over a 3-4 week period with data analysis and possible modeling work being conducted throughout the summer.

Skills/Courses Recommended: Basic knowledge of plant physiology; interest in plant biochemical/biophysical modeling; ability to participate greenhouse/garden scale experimental setup.
Anticipated Conference Presentation(s): American Geophysical Union

University at Buffalo