Environmental conditions are one of the major limiting factors for plant growth and development, and abiotic stresses are one of the main reasons for crop failure by affecting plant survival and growth. The climate changes are expected to greatly impact year-to-year yield variability and crop production (Foresight, 2011). Therefore, increasing our knowledge about plant mechanisms to adapt to adverse conditions is becoming much more important to sustain productivity worldwide. Chilling stress is a type of abiotic stress that occurs when plants are exposed to low temperatures, typically below 10°C. This type of stress can greatly impact the growth and productivity of plants (Kim et al., 2011), and plants withstand chilling stress by inducing gene expression and alteration of metabolic mechanisms (Renaut et al. 2004).
In this project, we aim to validate the role of some genes in the response of hazelnut to chilling stress. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of chilling tolerance in hazelnut is crucial for the improvement of this crop. To achieve this, we will first isolate total RNA from hazelnut buds placed under controlled conditions and exposed to chilling stress. We will then validate the quality and integrity of the RNA using a spectrophotometer and gel electrophoresis. Next, we will use quantitative PCR (qPCR) to measure the expression levels of the differentially expressed transcripts (DETs) in the hazelnut under chilling stress identified by RNA sequencing data and compare them to the expression under the control condition.
By the end of this project, the students will learn basic concepts of plant genomics and have experience with how plant RNA is isolated and validated of transcripts by qPCR.
Foresight. (2011). The Future of Food and Farming. Final Project Report. London: The Government Office for Science.
Kim, Y. H., Kim, M. D., Park, S. C., Yang, K. S., Jeong, J. C., Lee, H. S., & Kwak, S. S. (2011).
SCOF-1-expressing transgenic sweetpotato plants show enhanced tolerance to low-temperature stress. Plant physiology and biochemistry: PPB, 49(12), 1436–1441.
Renaut, J., Lutts, S., Hoffmann, L., & Hausman, J. F. (2004). Responses of poplar to chilling temperatures: proteomic and physiological aspects. Plant biology (Stuttgart, Germany),
6(1), 81–90. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2004-815733