The ability for plants to grow under drought conditions is becoming increasingly important. As climate change leads to more frequent occurrence of droughts, crops must be able to withstand these conditions. Sorghum, in addition to being a major food crop in the U.S., is adapted to grow in water-limited areas, and is therefore a good model for studying drought-tolerant phenotypes. The root system is specialized in the uptake of water, so we characterized morphological root traits important in the ability of a plant to adapt to drought conditions. We studied these traits by crossing drought-resistant and drought-susceptible sorghum parental lines to create recombinant lines with a mixture of these traits. Using these recombinants, we evaluated changes to the root system in response to both drought and well-watered conditions. These phenotypic adaptations to drought stress can be linked to specific genes and used to create drought-tolerant crops.
Throughout my time working on this project, the most important thing I have learned is how to figure out solutions when things don't go as expected. While it can be frustrating, some of the best learning comes from figuring out a different approach when something doesn't work the first time. I would say that any undergraduates interested in research should seek out any opportunities to get involved, as it is a valuable learning experience and a good way to figure out your interests.
At the Spring 2018 Curiosity to Creativity Symposium, my poster received the Broader Impact award.