Exploring the interaction between novel drought signals in plants

Agriculture, food and wine research at Waite campus

Investigate the interaction between different plant chemical signals and their role in plant drought tolerance.

Cytosolic γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and chloroplastic 3'-phosphoadenosine 5'- phosphate (PAP) are recently discovered stress-inducible signals in plants. By perturbing the metabolism of either, stomatal signalling responses are disrupted resulting in a reduced ability of plants to survive drought.

However, it is unknown if there is a communication between two signals in the regulation of plant gas exchange. This project is to examine the interaction of GABA and SAL1-PAP in stomatal regulation and expected to reveal a new signal network in guard cells.

You will develop skills in:

  • Molecular biology
  • Stomatal aperture assay
  • Stomatal conductance measurement

Key References:

Pornsiriwong W, Estavillo GM, Chan KX, Tee EE, et al. (2017). A chloroplast retrograde signal, 3’-phosphoadenosine 5’-phosphate, acts as a secondary messenger in abscisic acid signaling in stomatal closure and germination. Elife, 6, e23361.

Mekonnen DW, Flügge UI, & Ludewig F (2016) Gamma-aminobutyric acid depletion affects stomata closure and drought tolerance of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Science, 245, 25-34.



Dr Bo Xu

Co supervisorProfessor Matthew Gilliham

Research area: Plant biology and biochemistry

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Plant Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Plant science, Honours projects - Matthew Gilliham, Honours projects - Bo Xu