Coordination of physiological responses to multiple stresses by abscisic acid in barley: a field focused study
Director of Studies: Dr Anne Plessis
Second supervisor: Professor Jerry Roberts
Third supervisor: Dr Michael Hanley
Crop yield losses due to adverse weather and herbivory are among the main threats to global food security and will likely increase under climate change. While the molecular and physiological basis of plant stress responses are well studied in controlled laboratory conditions, it has proved difficult to translate this knowledge into improved crop yield stability under challenging environmental conditions. In particular, little is known about how crop physiological responses to the complex combination of climatic fluctuations and environmental stresses encountered in the field are coordinated. The aim of this PhD project is to understand the role of the hormone abscisic acid (ABA) in coordinating plant water relationships and growth in response to multiple stresses and climatic fluctuations in barley. The student will conduct experiments in both outdoor and greenhouse conditions, using a mutant line deficient for ABA synthesis, to assess the role of ABA in the control of growth and water relationships under drought alone and in combinations with other stresses (soil compaction and herbivore interaction). These data will be used to model physiological responses to stress conditions and fluctuating environmental factors, adapting a method already developed in the Plessis lab.