Heat-drought interactions during plant growth and reproduction

Drought is arguably the most important global factor controlling agricultural productivity. A long-term imbalance in plant water supply, resulting from evapotranspiration exceeding water availability, has strong negative effects on plant production. Drought is often accompanied by high temperature. In itself, high temperature already strongly affects plant performance. Vegetative growth can be slowed down due to reduced photosynthetic efficiency and reproduction may be hampered as a result of reduced male fertility. Surprisingly, little is known about the mutual impact of these stresses on the responses of plants. Given that the two stresses commonly occur together, it is possible that plants have developed mechanisms that are primed by either stress and enable the plant to better withstand both. In this project, the mechanisms will be investigated that determine the performance of tomato under combined heat and drought conditions.

In your internship you will quantify relevant characteristics of a range of genotypes of tomato and relate this data to responses of the plants to the stressful environmental conditions. These traits include: rooting patterns, rooting depth, stomatal behavior, leaf morphology, water use efficiency, photosynthetic efficiency, relative growth rate, metabolic characteristics, male and female fertility, seed and fruit set ability and gene expression.

If you are interested, please contact Eric Visser (eric.visser@science.ru.nl) or Ivo Rieu (i.rieu@science.ru.nl).