Model-driven experimental strategy will accelerate discovery in plant systems biology

EMRLab has been awarded NSF funding for a new interdisciplinary project with the Long Lab at NC State University! We’re expanding our team to carry out this iterative, integrative research effort over the next few years. Between the TN and NC labs, we will be onboarding 2 PhD students, 2 postdocs, and multiple undergraduate researchers to help us Solve the Puzzle of Fe Homeostasis. Interested? Read on and reach out!

Awards #2138342 & 2138243 Living on the edge: Quantitative Systems Physiology of Iron Homeostasis 
“This project will delineate how BRUTUS (BTS), an iron-binding protein confined to the plant vasculature, controls iron (Fe) handling throughout the plant – dynamically responding to changes in Fe levels by regulating other proteins that are able to move through the plant root and shoot. As in mammals, Fe is a critical nutrient and essential for several cellular processes. Unfortunately, it is also potentially toxic to cells. Thus, cells must tightly regulate Fe availability. By revealing how BTS acts as a master regulator of Fe status in plants, this work will provide new molecular targets for generating crops with increased nutrient content or tolerance to pervasive alkaline soils, in which Fe is poorly available. […]

The proposed work will provide new perspectives on how nutrient sensing in a multicellular organism orchestrates changes in protein-protein interactions in a tissue- and cell-specific manner and demonstrate how the details of a complex, multiscale regulatory phenomenon can be uncovered more efficiently by adopting a model-driven research strategy. Over the course of this project, the investigators will also collaborate with NC and TN 4-H Youth Development programs to create experiential learning modules for youth in rural and minority communities to gain awareness of plant biology fundamentals through activities designed to promote systems thinking.”