We seek to understand how plants perceive temperature. Being sessile organisms, plants are acutely sensitive to changes in ambient temperature, and are able to detect and respond to a change of as little as one degree Celsius. To directly address how plants sense temperature change, we have devised and implemented a novel forward genetic screen for mutants impaired in their ability to detect temperature correctly. Initial results demonstrate an interesting connection between chromatin structure and temperature sensing, which we are able to show is conserved within eukaryotes. Understanding the molecular basis of temperature perception is of interest from both a fundamental scientific perspective as well as having implications for understanding how plants (which comprise more than 1.25 trillion tonnes of biomass) will respond to climate change. The distribution and flowering time of wild plants has already been measurably altered by climate change, and this will become more dramatic under projected changes. Knowing the mechanisms of temperature perception will facilitate crop-breeding programs as well as provide important knowledge for predicting future effects of climate change. To this end, we propose a multi-disciplinary program exploiting two powerful model systems, Arabidopsis thaliana and Brachypodium distachyon, to address 5 key questions: 1. What is the molecular basis for temperature perception? 2. How is the temperature transcriptome coordinately regulated? 3. How are the flowering time pathways regulated by temperature? 4. How do plants adapt to different climates?
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