Bo Eng Cheong

The Effect of Sub-Optimal Temperature on the Cellular Metabolism of Wheat and Arabidopsis thaliana

Optimal temperature is the key to the viability of cereal crops. When the ambient temperature significantly deviates from the optimal one, physiological and molecular changes occur within crops, which adversely impact their growth and development. Excessive frosts have negatively impacted Australian wheat production in recent years, causing substantial yield losses of wheat production. The effect of cold stress on different wheat cultivars differed, implying a range of contrasting cold tolerance mechanisms could exist among cultivars of wheat. To investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms of cold response in wheat, I first investigated the metabolomes and lipidomes of two Australian wheat cultivars with different tolerance to cold stresses, the Wyalkatchem (cold-sensitive) and Young (cold tolerant).

All the metabolomics and lipidomics studies on wheat were conducted in the School of Biosciences, University of Melbourne (UniMelb). Next, I moved to the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPIMP, Germany) to conduct a systemic analysis of REIL proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana. REIL is known as a 60S ribosome biogenesis factor, which also has been shown to play as a potential cold adaptation/acclimation factor for yeast and also for Arabidopsis.

The results obtained from my study in MPIMP not only supported the important roles of REIL as ribosome biogenesis factor, potential cold acclimation factor, but also more potential roles beyond these two functions. In the last year of my PhD study which I will conduct in UniMelb, I will explore and evaluate if the REIL homologs could be a potential cold adaptation factor in wheats. Together with all the data obtained from the wheat metabolome, lipidome and REIL functional analysis, we believe that these knowledges would be useful for the design of Australian spring wheat cultivars with higher tolerance to cold temperature in the future.


University of Melbourne: Prof. Ute Roessner

MPIMP: Dr. Joachim Kopka