Understanding how plants respond to drought is critical to improving agricultural yields under increasingly frequent droughts as a result of climate change. The UC lab grew the naturally drought-tolerant food crop sorghum in the field under drought stress to look at how this changes its gene expression. Their work revealed evidence of drought significantly disrupting the plant’s ability to communicate with symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi.
Pierroz is interested in improving crop productivity by engineering drought tolerance and harnessing the microbiome. His current work focuses on a tissue type in the root where water uptake and microbial interactions intersect: the endodermis. My longterm goal is to engineer sorghum lives with differential root suberin content to investigate their tolerance to drought and differences in microbial recruitment.
Speaker: Grady Pierroz
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Berkeley, CA 94720
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