Root Hair Systems Biology

This project uses functional genomics to investigate the impact of biotic and abiotic stress on legume root hairs, a single cell model for systems biology. Our vision is to utilize the soybean root hair system to explore, at a systems level, the biology of a single, differentiated plant cell type There are two main focuses:

  1. To understand the molecular processes involved in legume root hair infection by nitrogen-fixing rhizobia. This infection initiates the symbiosis between this bacterium and its host that will result in the de novo formation of a novel organ, the nodule. It is within the nodule that the bacterium fixes nitrogen providing its host plant an advantage in environments where this element is limiting. The establishment of the symbiosis involves a complex interplay between host and symbiont, which is orchestrated by the exchange of diffusible signal molecules.
  2. To focus on defining the transcriptional, metabolomic and proteomic response of the soybean root hair cell to variations in temperature and water availability. These data will allow the development of computational models to examine regulatory networks that function at a single cell level to control the response to environmental change. The data obtained should provide a better understanding of the impacts of climate change (heat and water limitation) on plant root physiology.
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