Research Seminar: Dr Heather Knight (Durham University)
Dr Heather Knight hosted by Dr Keara Franklin
Life Sciences Seminar Room G13/G14
Investigating the molecular basis of plant freezing tolerance
Abstract: Plants experience a wide variety of abiotic stresses as a consequence of the environment in which they grow. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to crops, placing limits on where and when they can be grown and resulting in significant yield losses. However, some plant species are capable of surviving these conditions, increasing their tolerance of freezing temperatures through a process called cold acclimation. During a preparatory period of low, non-freezing temperatures, a range of molecular, metabolic and physiological changes are orchestrated that afford such species protection against subsequent freezing damage. These changes include activation of hundreds of cold-responsive genes encoding protective proteins. Research in my group focuses on the model plant Arabidopsis, a species capable of cold acclimation, and is aimed at understanding how freezing tolerance is achieved. We have identified a number of genes that through differing mechanisms control freezing tolerance. I will describe work showing that components of the mediator transcriptional coactivator complex control the expression of genes necessary for successful cold acclimation and I will also present data that demonstrate a role for the cell wall in defining levels of plant freezing tolerance.
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