Bob Sharp’s program addresses the physiological mechanisms that determine plant growth responses to water deficits (drought), with an emphasis on root growth adaptation. Root growth is less inhibited than shoot growth under drying soil conditions, and this response is considered an important adaptive strategy to facilitate continued water uptake. The lab collaborates with geneticists, biochemists and molecular biologists in an interdisciplinary effort to understand the regulation of growth under water-limited conditions and, ultimately, to improve crop performance in drought-prone environments.

Current interests are focused on the following areas, using maize and soybean as model systems:

  • roles of abscisic acid (ABA) and ethylene in root and shoot growth regulation
  • regulation of cell wall extensibility
  • roles of reactive oxygen species
  • plasticity of root system development, emphasizing lateral root proliferation