David Lowry received my PhD in 2010 from Duke University’s program in Genetics and Genomics under the mentorship of John Willis. From 2010-2013, he was a USDA postdoctoral fellow in Thomas Juenger’s lab in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. David Lowry has been an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Plant Biology since 2014. Dr. Lowry’s research is centered on identifying the genetic and genomic mechanisms of ecological adaptations and how those adaptations contribute to the formation of new species. In turn, his research aims to leverage our understanding of adaptation to improve crop species resilience to meet 21st-century challenges, especially the challenge of global climate change. Increases in global temperatures associated with climate change pose an enormous challenge for global agriculture and plant populations generally. Becoming a member of the MSU Plant Resilience Institute (PRI) in 2016 allowed Dr. Lowry to launch an exciting line of research to confront this challenge through a new focus on plant heat tolerance in the common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris. Beans are an important commodity crop in Michigan and a major food staple globally. In Africa and Latin America, beans are the largest source of plant-based protein and are thus, integral to global food security. In the 21st-century, bean production will be greatly challenged by rising temperatures as beans are extremely sensitive to heat. The primary reason that beans crops fail at high heat is due to male pollen sterility and poor seed filling. To understand the mechanisms of heat tolerance in beans, Lowry is combining classic plant physiology experiments with modern gene expression analyses and leveraging previously developed genome-wide association mapping panels for beans to identify genes responsible for heat tolerance.
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