Plants go through different stages of development that are modulated by different types of signals. Some signals come from within the plants themselves, while others, such as environmental stressors, a plant can only respond to. Phytohormones, “plant hormones” that arise from a plant’s metabolic activities, help integrate external signals into a plant’s growth and development. For her thesis research, Jessica Cardenas in the Bednarek Lab investigated the phytohormone Gibberellin (GA) and its role in regulating plant development. Her research suggests a previously undefined regulation of GA signaling by identifying a new interactor in the GA signaling pathway. Knowledge of GA’s impact on crop yield and quality will help shape our understanding of agricultural production and food security in a world increasingly concerned about population growth and climate change.
“In the past 50 years, the developing world has witnessed an extraordinary period of food crop productivity despite increasing land scarcity and rising land values,” Cardenas says. “Understanding the mechanism and regulation of GA signaling in plants is very important as the production of cereal crops tripled during this period, all or in part due to widespread adoption of semi-dwarf plant varieties, many of which were later found to have a mutation in either GA synthesis or in DELLA, a negative regulator of GA responses.”
To learn more about her research, attend her Thesis Defense on Thursday, October 28 in Room 1211 of the Biochemical Sciences Building.