NSF awards $3 million grant to support research for heat-tolerant tomatoes

Tomatoes on the Vine

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $3 million grant to a team of Wake Forest researchers led by Dr. Gloria Muday. The research team also included Dr. James B. Pease, Assistant Professor of Biology, and a previous undergraduate student of Muday’s at Wake Forest: Dr. Mark A. Johnson (’93). This grant will help determine why most tomato plants fail to pollinate when summer temperatures sit at 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a few hours. The goal is to develop more heat-tolerant tomatoes for future crops.

Looking at the data over the last few hundred years, the average temperature is going up, there are higher nighttime temperatures, and short bursts of elevated temperature that are sufficient to prevent plant reproduction.” – Dr. Gloria Muday, Charles M. Allen Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for Molecular Signaling

The NSF grant also includes funding to expand a science outreach program to local high schools that Muday started with her students about a decade ago. You may watch a video and read more about Dr. Muday and her students using tomatoes to teach local high school students about the science behind GMO foods on WMC Action News 5.

You may read more from author Cheryl Walker at Wake Forest News.

This story has also been covered by NC BioTech, Scienmag, Bioengineer.org, HortiDaily, Seed World, YES! Weekly, and EurekAlert!