Lead
Abiotic stresses such as drought and extreme temperatures can often cause oxidative stress, which in turn leads to accelerated senescence and shortens plant life span. Both stress tolerance and ageing are genetically controlled processes regulated by reactive oxygen species. The aim of this project is to identify elements of the genetic network that regulate the two intricately connected processes.

Lay summary
Abiotic stresses such as drought and extreme temperatures can often cause oxidative stress, which in turn leads to accelerated senescence and shortens plant life span. Both stress tolerance and ageing are genetically controlled processes regulated by reactive oxygen species. The aim of this project is to identify elements of the genetic network that regulate the two intricately connected processes by two alternative approaches: 1) Exploring the molecular mechanisms of stress tolerance in the desiccation- and freezing-tolerant species Haberlea rhodopensis and 2) analyzing Arabidopsis thaliana mutants with enhanced tolerance to oxidative stress and delayed senescence. H. rhodopensis is not only tolerant to abiotic stresses but also shows retarded senescence upon challenge with adverse environmental factors, compared with other species. Comprehensive transcriptome and metabolome analyses with Haberlea and other stress-sensitive species will be carried out to identify genes and biochemical pathways likely responsible for Haberlea’s remarkable stress tolerance and longevity. These genes will be subsequently analyzed by transgenic and pharmacological approaches to verify their function in stress tolerance and/or regulation of lifespan. In addition, several of our own A. thaliana mutants with enhanced tolerance to oxidative stress and altered senescence will be analyzed to identify the mutated genes and the affected pathways responsible for stress tolerance and delayed senescence.