Dr. Dianne Pater
Visiting Assistant Professor and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow, Amherst College
Title: Screening for Natural Variation in WUE Traits in a Diversity Set of Brassica napus
While plants have evolved to cope with changes in their environment, that adaptability has not necessarily been preserved as crops were developed from wild species. The efficiency at which plants maintain physiological processes, including photosynthesis, varies widely by species and is also affected by environmental influences, including drought, temperature extremes, and soil salinity. Stable isotope screening (δ13C) of a large diversity set of the crop species Brassica napus identified several accessions with extremes in water use efficiency (WUE). Subsequent examination of these candidates at the physiological level allowed for investigation of the underlying mechanisms of drought adaptation and identified natural variants in crop species with improved water use efficiency and potential relevant traits. My research aims to identify traits that may allow crop plants to adapt to unfavorable climate conditions and also to help identify crop varieties that may be grown on marginal lands that aren’t ideally suited for agriculture.