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K-State Today

April 15, 2021

Ru Zhang to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Ru Zhang, assistant professor, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will present "Dynamic Responses to Moderate and Acute Heat Stress in the Unicellular Green Alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, via Zoom.

Heat stress jeopardizes plant growth, reduces crop yields and hinders biofuel production. This problem will only exacerbate as global warming progresses. Despite this, the mechanisms employed by photosynthetic cells to sense and regulate heat responses remain poorly understood. To engineer heat-tolerant crops and algae for food and biofuel, a thorough understanding of how plant cells perceive and regulate heat stress is required. The eukaryotic, unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is an excellent model organism to study many important cellular processes. Chlamydomonas has several prominent advantages to study heat stress in photosynthetic cells, e.g., haploid genome, fast growth, simpler gene families, and homogenous heat treatment. A genome-saturating, mapped, indexed mutant library of Chlamydomonas is available, enabling both reverse and forward genetic screens. We use Chlamydomonas to study how photosynthetic cells dynamically respond to moderate and acute heat stress at multiple levels: cell physiology, photosynthesis, transcriptional and translational regulation. In combination of quantitative pooled screens using the Chlamydomonas mutant library, we aim to identify key genes and pathways that limit heat tolerance in photosynthetic cells. This study will help us understand cellular mechanisms and functional genomics that govern heat sensing and regulation in Chlamydomonas. It will provide information to engineer thermotolerant algal strains for biofuel production. In addition, the information gained in Chlamydomonas can be transformed into land plants to improve crop thermotolerance.

If you would like to visit with Zhang, please contact Brad Olson at bjsco@k-state.edu

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