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Climate change is happening, and its impact on plant and human life will only increase in severity in the coming years. With this in mind, assistant professor at the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, Dr. Clay Wright, is focused on developing a deeper understanding of plant behavior and the way genes play a role in plant defense mechanisms and responses to environmental changes. Once equipped with this knowledge, Dr. Wright believes it will be possible to re-engineer plants in a way that will better equip them for the coming changes in their environment. As one example, he discusses the possibility of preserving and protecting plant growth by creating a novel signal that would repress the formation of buds for a designated period of time, such as the length of time of a hard frost, and implementing an additional signal that would relieve that repression only after the hard frost has passed.

Dr. Wright also discusses plant defenses to pests and pathogens, the ability of microbes to manipulate plant defenses and what this tells us about the evolutionary development of plants and microbes, how different types of plants might respond to high temperatures versus high concentrations of CO2, and all the details of two specific chemical hormones he’s studying in the lab at Virginia Tech.

Press play for all the details and visit https://www.bse.vt.edu/ to learn more.

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