Plant Resilience Institute
(From left to right: David Lowry, Gregg Howe, Thomas Sharkey, Ashley Shade, Robin Buell, Michael Thomashow, Sheng Yang He and Brad Day.)
The Plant Resilience Institute (PRI) uses basic research to pinpoint the biological mechanisms that stimulate plant resilience — the ability to adapt to stress caused by pressures from the climate and the environment, among others. Gaining this understanding will be crucial to increasing crop yields. The objective of the PRI is to be flexible and responsive to emerging issues facing agriculture. Researchers have identified three areas of emphasis:
- High temperatures have a harmful effect on plant processes, but how plants will perform in and adapt to an increasingly warmer world remains unknown.
- Plants, just like humans, are intimately associated with microorganisms that have a profound influence on their physiology. Researchers want to determine what functions the microbes serve and how they help promote resilience to environmental challenges.
- Legumes are essential to nutrition and healthy diets around the world. The PRI will conduct research to identify mechanisms of stress tolerance that can be used to improve legume varieties to better adapt to changing climate conditions — less water and land, and rising temperatures.
Funding for the PRI is currently provided by MSU AgBioResearch, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the College of Natural Science and the MSU Global Impact Initiative. Researchers aim to turn the initial seed support into external grants once projects have made progress.