Research In Brief
The Big Questions and Goals
Improved temperature stress resistance in plants
The world population is expected to outpace agricultural productivity by the year 2050. To rise to this global challenge we need crops that produce more yield, under increasingly variable climatic conditions. One approach to producing more yield is to identify natural variation in abiotic stress response. The Gehan lab focuses on mining natural variation for improved resistance to temperature stress, which will help to improve crops, and move towards answering how plants perceive temperature.
Improved measurement of plant phenotypes
To measure natural variation in temperature stress resistance, we need non-destructive tools that can quickly and accurately measure a plant trait (phenotype). Therefore, the Gehan Lab also focuses on developing new tools and methods for plant phenotyping over time. The lab concentrates on computational methods of measuring plant traits from images.
The Plant Systems
The Gehan lab focuses on grasses Brachypodium distachyon and Setaria viridis because they are closely related to important food and bioenergy crops, but have the advantage of being models plant systems. Brachypodium distachyon is a C3 grass closely related to wheat, barley , rye, and rice. Setaria viridis is a C4 grass that is closely related to maize, sorghum, miscanthus, and switchgrass.
The Gehan lab is also starting to work on Chenopodium quinoa, as a model system for plant stress resilience. Quinoa is delicious and is reported to have very high tolerance to abiotic stress.