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Understanding how crop diseases and climate change interact is vital

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What's New?

Intertwined signatures of desiccation and drought tolerance in grasses

In a new study published in PNAS, PRI scientists led by Horticulture-Plant Resilience Institute faculty member Robert VanBuren show that some grasses can survive typically lethal drought events through entering a dormant, desiccated state until the return of water. In the study, the team aimed to find what distinguishes this unique desiccation tolerance response from conserved drought responses observed in all grasses. They identified genomic and expression changes distinguishing the desiccation-tolerant grass Eragrostis nindensis from its sensitive crop relative Eragrostis tef and then expanded these analyses to include several cereals to identify broadly conserved and divergent patterns during water-deficit stress. They found that the distinction between drought and desiccation in grasses is subtle, where genes with essential roles in seed development are broadly expressed during water-deficit stress. They propose that many of the pathways enabling desiccation tolerance are of ancient origin with universal roles in water deficit, and are conserved across grasses.  

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MSU researcher receives grant to continue studying pathogen resistance in plants

MSU plant pathologist Brad Day has received a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to extend his study on how plants, at the cellular level, respond to disease threats.

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Gregg Howe, Founding Member of the Plant Resilience Institute, is elected into the National Academy of Sciences

Gregg is a University Distinguished Professor in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory and the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and has been investigating the impact of heat stress on resistance in tomato to insect pests in the PRI.

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Crops could face double trouble from insects and a warming climate

Gregg Howe and Nate Havko find that in the heat, tomato plants can’t fight off the hungry tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta.

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A COMMON METABOLIC CURRENCY TUNES GROWTH-DEFENSE BALANCE IN PLANTS

When plants defend against a threat, their growth slows to a crawl. In their efforts to understand why, the Howe lab is constantly pushing the limits: how high can one tune plant defenses before a plant goes belly up?

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CANCELLED Events

Due to COVID-19 concerns, Michigan State University has cancelled all public events for the remainder of Spring Semester 2020 while classes have gone online.

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A growing world population, coupled with on-going and anticipated climate change, demands accelerated improvements in agricultural productivity. As the pioneer land grant university, Michigan State University has been an international leader in plant science research for the last 50 years. This continues today with the establishment in 2016 of the Plant Resilience Institute (PRI) as part of Michigan State University’s Global Impact Initiative that has a goal of hiring 100 new faculty to accelerate discovery of solutions to grand challenges. Meeting global food needs and improving food security in the face of climate change is one such priority. The mission of the PRI is to enhance plant resilience to environmental challenges including extremes in weather and climate change, and to become a “Center of Excellence” for foundational and translational plant research aimed at increasing the productivity and quality of food and energy crops.

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