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Progress Reports: University of California-San Diego: Molecular Mechanisms of Heavy Metal Detoxification and Engineering Accumulation in Plants

Superfund Research Program

Molecular Mechanisms of Heavy Metal Detoxification and Engineering Accumulation in Plants

Project Leader: Julian I. Schroeder
Grant Number: P42ES010337
Funding Period: 2017-2022
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Progress Reports

Year:   2020  2019  2018  2017 

New mutants have been isolated using the Molecular Mechanisms of Heavy Metal Detoxification and Engineering Accumulation in Plants Project’s amiRNA systems level platform. The identified transcription factors differentially control sensitivity of plants to the heavy metal cadmium and the metalloid arsenic (Xie 2021). The identification of homologous genes with functional overlap in forward genetic screens is severely limited. To address this problem on a genomic systems level, the lab computationally designed amiRNA libraries for genome-wide knock-down of homologous gene family members. The team generated 10 amiRNA libraries, thus providing a powerful new genomic screening platform. The laboratory has generated about 14,000 individual lines expressing amiRNAs for screening for new heavy metal resistance and accumulation genes in plants (Hauser 2019). Transporters play a major role in heavy metal accumulation and resistance in plants and can be manipulated in plants engineered to absorb heavy metals from the environment. A critical limitation in the ability to identify transporters by forward genetic screens is their potential functional redundancy. The population of 14,000 T2 generation transgenic Arabidopsis lines is now available for screening (Hauser 2019). Several key genes and mechanisms have been identified using this platform.

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