Arabidopsis arenosa blooms in nature. Credit: Getty Images

Cheung/Wu Lab Receives Four-year $1.5 Million NIH Research Award to Continue Research on Plant Reproduction

Alice Cheung and Hen-Ming Wu, professors of biochemistry and molecular biology, have received a four-year, $1.5 million research award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue their research on plant reproduction.

NEWS Hen-Ming Wu and Alice Cheung
Hen-Ming Wu and Alice Cheung

Understanding reproduction in flowering plants, the source of grains and almost all vegetable and fruit crops, is critical for ensuring global nutritional needs and food security. The Cheung/Wu lab has a long-standing record in researching the basic mechanisms behind how flowering plants produce seeds.

“While our research relies on the model plant Arabidopsis, understanding the molecular mechanisms that lead to plant reproductive success is foundational to designs of counter measures against reproductive loss in agriculturally important species,” Cheung said. “In addition to furthering fundamental understanding of male-female interactions, the NIH supported project will also explore how environmental stresses impact the basic strategies that plants use to reproduce.”

Reproduction in plants relies on complex interplays between pollen (male) and several distinct female tissue and cell types. The process is highly sensitive to the environment, such as high and low temperatures, drought, and flood. Poor climatic conditions often result in reproductive failure and devastate seed yields. By studying this process, research in the Cheung/Wu lab will contribute to the NIH’s commitment in supporting fundamental research in model organisms whose success will ultimately protect human health.