Dr. Geoffrey Morris
Yes, you might save the world: Goal-directed hypothesis-driven science for climate resilient agriculture
Climate change is already disrupting food security and agricultural prosperity worldwide, and is expected to worsen. At the same, plant breeding, one of society's most important defenses against climate disruption, is being enhanced with new technologies in genomics, phenomics, modeling, and gene editing. Can plant breeding keep up with the need for climate resilient agriculture? Experience in recent decades suggests it can be surprisingly difficult to translate exciting new scientific discoveries into widely-adopted varieties in farmers' fields. In some cases, it seems there has been confusion among stakeholders about what the goals were. In other cases, it seems that the hypotheses underlying the goals were not tested as rigorously as was needed. In this seminar, I'll present a framework for goal-directed hypothesis-driven science (GoHy) that students can use to design, conduct, and communicate their research, so they can maximize their impact. I'll give examples of how my lab and others are using goal-directed hypothesis-driven science to dissect the genetic basis of climate-adaptive traits in crops and translate these discoveries into technology that will (we hypothesize!) accelerate breeding of climate-resilient varieties.
Dr. Christine Diepenbrock
Digital and genomics-enabled technologies to improve crop productivity and quality under abiotic stress conditions
Our research group is focused on improving crop nutritional quality and abiotic stress tolerance in staple and specialty crops, namely given the partial overlap in target environments for improvement of these trait sets. In this talk, I will describe a few of our group’s current projects, including as part of collaborative teams, that are relevant to the theme of this symposium. 1) The integration of crop growth models (CGM) and whole-genome prediction (WGP) in a large maize breeding experiment, with field evaluations at several sites in the U.S. Corn Belt and in managed stress environments. Briefly, predictive abilities of CGM-WGP were superior to or at parity with those of WGP in all four quadrants of prediction (tested and untested genotypes, tested and untested environments). 2) Evaluation of agronomic traits in yellow- to orange-grain maize hybrids in southeast Zimbabwe under drought and high temperatures. 3) Evaluation of agronomic and grain compositional traits in sorghum under pre-flowering drought and wellwatered conditions in California and South Africa—the latter through a plant breeding partnership with Dr. Julia Sibiya at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. 4) AI-enabled sensing and modeling of leaf biochemical and physiological traits in leafy greens and grain legumes.
Dr. Kevin Begcy
Stressed? Chill out, plants know how to deal with pressure
Historically, pollen development studies under heat stress are performed across several developmental stages and occasionally through the entire pollen formation. However, high temperature spikes have become more extreme and with increasing frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity. Thus, although most pollen developmental stages appear to be sensitive to abiotic stresses, the molecular, physiological and biochemical bases that contribute to male sterility in response to heat stress during each pollen developmental stage are not well understood. This talk will discuss recent data on the negative effect of heat stress during the microsporogenesis-to-microgametogenesis transition as well as in some individual stages of the pollen microgametogenesis development in maize.
April Taylor, M.S.
Losing Native Nations’ Culturally Significant Plants due to Climate Change: More than Material Damage
Loss, or decreasing populations, of culturally significant plants is a major concern for many tribal managers. Culturally significant plants are essential in many ways of life for tribal members; including uses in medicines, ceremonial practices and traditional food dishes. In many parts of the U.S., droughts, floods and changes in timing of frost are creating stress on culturally significant plants, in many cases, leading to decreases in their areas of suitable habitat or lowering their resistance to disease. This talk will introduce culturally significant plants and ways that climate change is stressing these plants. Then the talk will share about our approach to identify potential research collaboration opportunities.