Response to drought of a giant woody cabbage cross

brassica

This project will aim to determine the differences in water-use behavior and hydraulic traits related to drought-resistance, and various molecular responses to drought stress between the two parents and a number of offspring genotypes selected to represent the range of variability in stem woodiness.

Dr. Frederic Lens

Senior researcher
Understanding Evolution

frederic.lens@naturalis.nl
+31 (0)71 7519320

Background and context

In the context of climate change and the higher probability of extreme climate events such as droughts and heatwaves, much research is needed to understand and predict how plants will react to these stressful events. In particular, crop species are crucial systems in which to develop this knowledge and they will allow us to investigate the genetic basis of traits providing increased resilience to climate change. A cross of two cabbages with contrasting growth forms and life history traits (the rapid flowering dwarf TO1000 and the late flowering giant woody ‘walking stick’ Jersey Kale) offers the opportunity to look for the interesting key traits in the F2 population, such as flowering time, drought stress resistance, water transport, among others.

This project will aim to determine the differences in water-use behavior and hydraulic traits related to drought-resistance, and various molecular responses to drought stress between the two parents and a number of offspring genotypes selected to represent the range of variability in stem woodiness.

Material tasks and approach

Multiple individuals of each accession (the two parents, the two F1 parents, and a selected number of F2 individuals that show contrasted levels of stem woodiness) will be grown from tissue culture to mature height. Some plants will be subject to lower levels of daily watering, while others will be well-watered and then subjected to drought. Parameters such as daily minimum water potential, stomatal conductance, leaf turgor loss point, photosynthetic rate and sap-flow will be monitored throughout the experiment. Following this drought period, plants will be re-watered and their recovery dynamics measured for the same set of parameters. Lethal water potential (level of drought that kill the plants) will also be determined this way. We will also monitor a subset of plants for the ability to generate positive root pressure, and it potential influence on the water transport mechanism. Throughout the experiment, we will also measure molecular parameters such as expression analysis (by qRT-PCR) of drought marker genes, NAC transcription factors and so on.

Requirements

We are looking for a student with an interest in plant physiology and hydraulic function during drought. Experience growing and caring for plants is appreciated.