The yield potential of agricultural crops is limited by the ability of plants to support their own weight and withstand external forces. The failure of plants to stay upright is called lodging, and can have a dramatic impact on crop yields. In some crops specialized aerial roots, called brace roots, are hypothesized to play an important role in stability to prevent lodging. Yet, the benefit of brace roots to the plant and what makes a good brace root is unknown. The Sparks lab utilizes a wide variety of methodologies with an aim to understand brace root development and function, and to identify the genes that control these processes.
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