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Understanding the connection between ROS/RNS homeostasis and the circadian signalling network: beyond the genetic level

20th national competition for scientific and technical research

Food security and biotechnology

Senior Researcher : María del Carmen Martí Ruiz

Research Centre or Institution : Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC)

Abstract

Plants can measure time and predict and adapt to coming environmental changes thanks to their endogenous circadian clock. The plant circadian clock has been shown to account for one-third of Arabidopsis transcripts and therefore it is involved in numerous biological and physiological processes. Understanding how the circadian signalling network regulates these processes and affects productivity is an important agronomic issue.

Abiotic stresses including salinity, extreme temperatures and drought are a subject of increasing interest due to the significant impact on food yields in a scenario of continued reduction of arable land and water resources as well as climate change.

Plant cells generate reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS and RNS) involved in general metabolism that can be harmful for cellular components due to their chemistry, but they are also involved in cellular signalling to promote defense against environmental stress situations. Because ROS and RNS can be used as important secondary messengers during stress, it may be important for ROS and RNS homeostasis to be in tune with daily cycles to increase vegetative growth and ultimately enhance productivity of crops.

This project will elucidate the connection between ROS/RNS homeostasis and the circadian signalling network. Thus, it will determine to what extend the Arabidopsis circadian network is involved in ROS homeostasis and whether is it is also involved in RNS homeostasis and in ROS/RNS responses to saline stress at different levels, including genetic, biochemical and physiological. Finally, it will aim to translate basic science into a possible biotechnological application by studying the almond tree circadian signaling network in order to identify genes that might help breeders to increase vegetative growth and ultimately enhance productivity specially in drought conditions.

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