It is generally understood that the non-polar nature of the surface lipids that are infused within and coat the cuticle of plant surfaces provide a hydrophobic layer that acts as a protective water barrier between the plant and its environment. This Objective will test both the impact of water status on surface lipid accumulation as well as the protective capacities of these lipids on maize silks. Water stress is a particularly relevant stressor to crops grown in drought-prone areas, such as the Cornbelt and other regions (http://www.drought.gov/drought/).
In this Objective we are using controlled environment experiments to assess the relationship between surface lipids and two key abiotic stresses: humidity, and water availability. We are integrating metabolic profiling and transcriptomics data with silk physiology and pollen receptivity assays to ascertain the protective capacities of silk surface lipids against selected abiotic stresses. These experiments are taking advantage of the genetic and metabolic diversity inherent in the intermated B73xMo17 (IBM) lines described and utilized in Objective 1.
Picture: Drought Stress