TOR signaling targets to improve photosynthetic efficiency in wheat

  • Term: Three years, beginning in 2016

  • Funding Amount: $100,000

  • Lead Researcher(s): Raju Datla (NRC)

  • Funding Partners: Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), Alberta Innovates Biosolutions (Ai Bio), Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture - Agriculture Development Fund (ADF)

Project Description

Findings from research studies with Target of Rapamycin (TOR) signaling identified functions in metabolism, nutrition, light and lifespan with implications to photosynthesis (Ren et al., 2011; Ren et al., 2012; Datla et al., 2014). The TOR is highly conserved in all eukaryotes, the founding member of TOR signaling, encodes a large Ser/Thr protein kinase; regulates metabolism, protein synthesis, growth, development and lifespan in diverse eukaryotes including plants (Laplante and Sabatini 2012, Ren et al., 2012; Xiong and Sheen 2014; Shimobayashi and Hall 2014). TOR regulated signaling programs are mediated through its functions in two large complexes (TORC1 and TORC2) by interactions with other proteins (Laplante and Sabatini 2012; Shimobayashi and Hall 2014).

The expected outcomes of this project will identify targets in TOR signaling with functions in photosynthetic efficiency. These findings will have potential to develop new IP. Additionally, these discoveries will also positively contribute, in a synergistic and complementary way will capture applied potential for these less explored important components representing outside the core photosynthesis machinery. To unravel the underlying genetic circuits and the associated mechanistic insights of natural genetic variants implicated and/or linked to TOR signaling, the project will apply extensive expertise of PIs in photosynthesis research and also by accessing large wheat germplasm resources (e.g. large CIMMYT collection) to identify relevant natural allelic variants.

The researchers intend to develop new innovative tools and gene targets functioning in photosynthetic efficiency, which will help and benefit Canadian wheat breeding efforts to improve yield in this crop.