Professor Gloria Muday, and students Bethany Pan, and Par Ranjbar recently won a national contest sponsored by the American Society of Plant Biologists to develop teaching tools that can be used in K-12 and college level biology which teaches about the effects of climate change, drought, and water deficit on plants. Their teaching tool is based on active learning exercises which consider sustainable agricultural practices, and discuss traditional plant-breeding and genetic engineering approaches to enhance drought tolerance.
Plant Responses to Drought and Global Climate Change by Gloria Muday, Bethany Pan, and Parastou Ranjbar
This teaching tool addresses the effects of global climate change, drought, and water deficit on plant structure and function and how plant scientists are working to develop agricultural practices and plant species that are better adapted to these stresses. Global temperature increases are expected to amplify the severity of drought and water deficit in the near future world-wide. Students will learn how plants utilize water and regulate its uptake and release and how drought conditions impact these processes. The student will learn the mechanism by which hormones and genes regulate these plant survival responses to harsh environments. The teaching tool will include examples of how plants are affected by global warming and drought and how this insight can be used for breeding and genetically engineering plants that are more drought-tolerant. Finally, the teaching tool will be accompanied by an active learning exercise for students to weigh traditional breeding and genetic engineering approaches for improving drought tolerance.
Gloria Muday (left) is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Wake Forest University. Her research examines how the highly plastic response of root development is modulated by environmental conditions and how appropriate root architecture and hormone signaling pathways that control this architecture enable plants to thrive when water is limited. Her laboratory studies how auxin and ethylene control root development and examines how flavonoid antioxidants modulate levels of stress- and hormone-regulated synthesis of reactive oxygen species to control root and pollen development, and guard cell signaling.
Par Ranjbar (middle) and Bethany Pan (right) enrolled in a Plant Physiology and Development course taught by Gloria Muday in the fall of 2015, as part of their undergraduate Biology BS degree at Wake Forest University, in which plant responses to the environment was a course theme. Bethany and Par worked on a final class project focused on drought and global climate change in which they examined how water limitation affects plant growth and development, as well as the ecological and agricultural implications of changing temperature and water availability. As this Plant Physiology and Development course extensively utilized Teaching Tools in Plant Biology as a central resource, they constructed a slide set and summary document modeled after a Teaching Tool on this topic as a final class project. This team will create a final Teaching Tool by polishing and extending this project to provide other students material to understand how global climate change impacts plant growth and development and how plant researchers are working to develop plants resistant to these environmental stresses.
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