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Lisa Ainsworth's Laboratory

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Research

Genetic and Genomic Approaches to Understand and Improve Maize Responses to Ozone

This NSF Plant Genome Research Project project couples the unique capabilities of Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) technology, which provides controlled elevation of ozone concentrations in open-air at field scale, with the power of the vast genetic resources in maize and next generation sequencing. Research will provide a foundation for crop improvement by (i) quantifying genetic variation in response to elevated ozone among diverse inbred and hybrid maize lines in the field; (ii) using high-throughput phenotyping of ozone impacts on maize growth, senescence, leaf metabolism and reproductive processes, to identify traits that correlate with yield loss; (iii) identifying the genes and gene networks underpinning the ozone response in the most extreme tolerant and susceptible lines, and their hybrids, by integrating RNA-seq expression analysis and detailed physiological analysis in inbred and hybrid maize; (iv) developing, or identifying existing, biparental populations derived from tolerant and sensitive parents to identify QTLs and eQTLs for ozone tolerance; and (v) assessing crosstalk between ozone and biotic stress response gene networks in maize.

Phloem loading as a Driver of Plant Photosynthetic Responses to Rising Carbon Dioxide Concentration

The aim of this project is to test the broad hypothesis that species with different phloem loading strategies and capacities will have fundamentally different responses to elevated [CO2] via differential abilities to enhance export capacity and by differential feedback effects of elevated sugar levels on photosynthesis. This USDA NIFA funded project examines a range of species with different phloem loading strategies and transgenic crops over-expressing sucrose transporters in ambient and elevated [CO2].

Improving Soybean Production in Elevated Ozone

Crop losses to ground-level ozone in the United States are estimated to cost $1-3 billion annually. This environmental stress may be causing greater yield loss state-wide than any single soybean disease, and ozone levels are projected to rise over the next 30 - 50 years. We have investigated the ozone response of more than 40 soybean genotypes, and have screened a recombinant inbred population under ambient and elevated ozone at the SoyFACE facility. The aim of this project is to identify QTL associated with ozone tolerance in soybean.

Path to a ringAerial photo of maize ring

Photo of soybeansPhoto of a tractor