Research Theme 1:
How do plant cells polarize before dividing asymmetrically?
Plant stomata and the power of corn
BRK and PAN protiens: Molecular players in the asymmetric divisions that form maize stomata
Research Theme 2:
How do subsidiary cells function in the grass stomatal complex?
Grass stomata open and close quickly, presumably due in part to the action of the subsidiary cells that flank the guard cells, although the molecular mechanisms of how subsidiary cells might do this are unknown
Are stomatal movements affected in pan and brk mutants?
We are trying to understand if plants with aberrant subsidiary cells open and close more slowly in response to environmental cues. We are examining this in the juvenile leaves (i.e., the first ~5 leaves of the maize plant) where many subsidiary cells are aberrantly shaped in these mutants, as well as in adult leaves (i.e., approximately leaves 7 and older), which have fewer aberrant cells. Studies from other plants suggest molecules affecting actin nucleation that operate with BRK proteins, as well as a receptor protein similar to PAN2 are involved in stomatal function.
Do stomatal variants in maize perform differently?
Since little is known about the mechanism of subsidiary cell interaction, and the subsidiary cell-guard cell interaction, we are examining the behavior of stomata in diverse maize inbred lines. We are determining if there are morphological features (such as size or shape) or genetic features (gene expression or gene variants) that contribute to efficient stomatal opening and closing. Ultimately, we will determine if variation in stomatal function translates to differences in plant water use efficiency.