Portrait photo of Petra Marhava standing in an in vitro growth room fetching a square plate with green Arabidopsis seedlingsPhoto: Andreas Palmén

Temperatures below or above the physiological optimum for plant growth induce temperature stress, which can cause detrimental and irreversible damage to plant growth and development. While most of the studies to date have focused on big-picture elements of plant responses to climate change, our research will provide insights into the molecular and cellular responses, to improve our mechanistic understanding of plant acclimation to heat and cold stress.

Even though studies on the underlying mechanisms of plant acclimation to high/low temperature are making steady progress, many questions remain unanswered. In particular, the role of the plant root system during acclimation to temperature stress has received little attention, though temperature stress at the root level can strongly affect the function of the whole plant and decrease crop productivity. In addition, despite knowing that plants show organ-specific transcriptome responses to temperature stress, we still tend to generalize findings based on shoot tissues. In my group, we combine state-of-the-art techniques for exploring root tissue to understand how roots sense and modulate their growth in response to fluctuating temperatures.