Sona’s lab is interested in understanding how plants sense changes in their environment, like light, temperature, humidity and even microbes. As humans, we can sense that it is too cold outside and walk indoors where it is more comfortable. Plants don’t have that ability, so they have to modify what they are going to do within the environment. “The question my lab is asking is how are plants sensing a change in their surroundings and then what are some of the first changes that take place to respond?” To do this, Sona’s lab specifically looks at the proteins involved in sensing environmental changes, called G proteins. Her lab studies the signaling mechanisms of G proteins , and how that ultimately affects plant growth and development. As our environment changes and the population continues to grow, Sona’s work is becoming even more critical to feeding the world. In order to understand how a plant responds to changing environmental conditions like high temperatures, drought, or low nutrient availability, we need to know what is happening within the plant. Once we understand that, then we can improve the plants to be able to respond better to stress. In the future, this could mean that we may be able to grow crops in conditions that were previously uninhabitable. Not only could Sona’s research help plants respond to stress, it could also result in improved yield under normal conditions. “Our goal will always be to make plants survive better with lower inputs and under stressful conditions, while still maintaining or improving yield,” explains Sona.
“Our goal will always be to make plants survive better with lower inputs and under stressful conditions, while still maintaining or improving yield.”