Crop Tolerance to Abiotic Stress
Research in Wanlong Li’s Lab focuses on genetics and genomics of crop (mainly wheat) tolerance to abiotic stress. Combine genetic mapping, map-based cloning, transcriptome and metabolite analysis, we are characterizing the diketone pathway of cuticular wax biosynthesis, which is not present in the model plants Arabidopsis and rice, and genetic and epigenetic regulation of root systems architecture (RSA). While the cuticular wax protects water loss and reduces surface temperature,
RSA responds to the soil-based stress, such as drought, waterlogging, salinity, etc. In the wax project, we found wax inhibitor genes Iw1 and Iw2 shunt metabolites from diketone pathway to acyl pathway and caused loss of glaucousness, finely mapped Iw3 to a 0.027-cM interval and discovered a new wax locus W3.
The RSA project, identified an allelic interaction in a single locus (Vsr1) causing very short roots (VSR) in hybrids. Genetic and transcriptomic analyses showed that expression of the Vsr1 locus is under epigenetic regulation. Therefore, VSR also provides us an opportunity to unveil the genetic and epigenetic basis of overdominance, an important component of heterosis. Currently we are cloning the Vsr1 locus and investigating Vsr1-mediated pathways and physiological effects. In addition, we also conduct research on polyploid wheat evolution..