Molecular Regulation of Bud Dormancy & Bloom Time
My research team and I are committed to investigating the mechanisms of bud dormancy and flowering time regulation in pome and stone fruits. This research is particularly pertinent in the face of climate change, which has led to an increase in damaging spring frost events.
Our primary research objectives revolve around understanding the hormonal regulation of bud dormancy and blooming, with a particular emphasis on the roles of plant hormones, carbohydrates, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and flavonoids. We are also investigating the impact of rootstocks on a scion's sensitivity to frost and freeze events, providing a deeper understanding of how different elements of the plant interact under frost conditions.
To achieve these objectives, we employ a range of methodologies, from traditional physiological and biochemical tools to advanced molecular biology techniques. For example, we use RNA-Seq for gene expression profiling, which allows us to uncover transcriptomic variations associated with bud dormancy and regrowth. Additionally, we leverage UPLC-TOF-MS to investigate metabolomic variations, giving us insight into the metabolic pathways involved in these processes.
Our research also involves comparative studies across various peach and apple cultivars with differing bloom dates. These studies help us validate and understand the molecular and biochemical variations we observe. Furthermore, we are exploring the dynamics of hormone signaling in several scion-rootstock combinations using omics and synthetic biology tools.
As part of our frost mitigation efforts, we are investigating potential applications of plant growth regulators (e.g. ethephon), hormone inhibitors, cellulose nanocrystals, and cryoprotectants. These compounds could serve as valuable tools in our efforts to delay bloom times and improve cold hardiness in these crops.
In essence, our research aims to unravel the intricate interplay of hormones, genes, and environmental factors that govern bud dormancy and flowering time regulation. Our ultimate goal is to develop effective strategies to mitigate frost damage, thereby ensuring the sustainability and profitability of the pome and stone fruit industries in the face of climate change.