OCAST plant science program funds six projects
Six basic plant science proposals were awarded a total of $538,641 Tuesday by the governing board of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST).
All six projects are for two years. The competition is open to Oklahoma scientists engaged in basic or applied research in the field of plant sciences. Applications undergo external peer review and funds are awarded on merit for basic research. For applied applications, awards are based on economic impact and commercialization potential. A dollar-for-dollar match, typically from federal or private funds, is required from the winning applicants.
Researchers representing state businesses, institutions of higher learning and nonprofit research institutions are eligible to apply.
“Our system of peer review helps determine rankings of the applications. Plants are becoming increasingly important for development of new treatments for disease and new sources of energy,” according to Michael Carolina, OCAST executive director. “In addition to the funded projects, there were 13 proposals deemed meritorious that were not funded due to budget restrictions.”
More information about the Oklahoma Plant Science Research program is available on the OCAST Website, www.ocast.ok.gov.
Norman – Principal investigator Ben Holt III of the University of Oklahoma will study transcription factors, essential signaling nodes that take simple inputs and convert these messages into complex developmental decisions for plants. Such decisions control the production and quality of agriculturally important traits. His research focus is on flowering time and response to drought, both essential in understanding ways to increase biomass and preventing crop losses. Total award is $90,000
Ardmore – Lloyd Sumner of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation will research plants that have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-cancer potential. He will seek fundamental molecular, genetic and biochemical information relative to the biosynthesis of saponins in legumes. The research also will enable the future metabolic engineering of crops. Total award is $88,833
Stillwater – Principal investigator David W. Meinke of Oklahoma State University will oversee a project to identify factors that determine whether the loss of a basic cellular function in a model plant results in embryo or gametophyte lethality. This work will provide a foundation for understanding the reproductive significance of large numbers of essential genes, which underlie the cellular processes that contribute to both seed development and plant productivity. Total award is $90,000
Ardmore – Elison Blancaflor of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation will seek to uncover molecular pathways through which the actin component of the cytoskeleton interacts with the plant hormone auxin in mediating primary root elongation. Knowledge gained is expected to help design strategies to enhance plant productivity and yield for renewable biomass. While initial benefits will be for crops, the research is expected to have applications for human biology and medicine. Total award is $89,808
Ardmore – Principal investigator Carolyn Young of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation will lead the effort to discover and annotate a set of symbiosis expressed genes from N. coenophialum, using cutting edge technology – laser capture microdissection. The project could be a step towards achieving the long-term goal of understanding and using these fungal symbionts for society’s benefit. Total award is $90,000
Ardmore – Principal investigator Ping Xu of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation will focus his research on virus-induced plant lethality where systemic necrosis leads to rapid plant death. Such disease outbreaks have occurred in several important crops. Specifically, the researcher will develop better understanding of the host response to cucumber mosaic virus and D satellite RNA infection. At completion, the project has the potential to improve tomato disease resistance directly and to increase the understanding of host-virus interactions in general. Total award is $90,000