Speaker — Marna Yandeau-Nelson, assistant professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology at Iowa State University
Title — Protecting Plant Surfaces: Dissecting the genetic and metabolic networks for cuticular lipids on maize silks using systems approaches
Abstract — The plant cuticle provides a protective barrier between aerial portions of a plant and the external environment. For maize silks, the cuticle provides a primary line of defense against environmental stressors (e.g., desiccation, UV radiation, insect damage) during the critical period that these floral tissues are exposed to the environment for pollen reception. The cuticular lipids infused within and atop the cutin matrix are rich in hydrocarbons, and these molecules represent the inert end-point metabolites of the cuticular lipid network. To understand how the cuticle fulfills its diverse functions, we have implemented a systems approach to comprehensively determine the enzymes, regulators and metabolic reactions involved in biosynthesis of the silk cuticular lipid metabolome. Using the rich array of genetic and molecular resources available in maize, we have demonstrated that these complex arrays of cuticular lipids differ among genotypes, during silk development and based on environmental conditions. These results suggest complex genetic interactions in the regulation of this metabolic network. Via a combination of metabolomic, transcriptomic, quantitative genetic, classical genetic and computational approaches, we are identifying candidate genes within the genetic network and we are modeling the metabolic networks that underlie surface lipid accumulation on silks. This work aims to reveal unique mechanisms that produce the distinctive surface chemistries that plants utilize to gain protection from environmental stresses. Moreover, this research provides the foundation to study silk biology and function more broadly, which could have important applications to improving crop health and productivity.
Host: Yanhai Yin, GDCB chair and professor
Please join us for refreshments before the seminar outside Room 1414 of the Molecular Biology Building.