The Role of Transcription Factors and Small RNAs in Abiotic Stress in Plants and Genetic Biodiversity of Plant Species in Agriculture and Biotechnology

Principal Investigator: Vesna Maksimovic, PhD

Being sessile organisms, plants often have to face challenges posed by environmental stresses. To minimize the cellular damage caused by stress, plants have evolved highly complex but well coordinated adaptive responses operating at the transcriptional, posttranscriptional, translational and post-translational levels of gene expression. The aim of this project is analysis of transcription factors that could play a crucial role in the stress response covering expression control of several genes. We propose to isolate and characterize TFs belonging to the DREB and MYB families from chosen crop species of plant varieties differing in tolerance to drought stress (genus Pisum, Phaseolus vulgaris and Lolium perenne). We will include detection and expression profiling of conserved miRNAs (miR398 and miR408), which have emerged as important regulatory molecules influencing plant stress responses. In addition our interest is focused on analysis of the expression pattern and potential protective function of metallothionein and aspartic proteinase genes from buckwheat, the expression of which was previously shown to be dependent on heavy metal exposure. Research on genetic diversity of wild plant species and landraces representing an important genetic reservoir is essential for better understanding of stress tolerance at the molecular level and such knowledge may eventually be useful for improving stress tolerance in crop plants.  

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