Life is hard for a plant - perpetually forced to deal with the full brunt of the environment.

The Assmann lab is interested in studying the mechanisms by which plants sense abiotic environmental stresses and how they respond to and tolerate those stresses. We are particularly interested in drought and high temperature and the relationship that those factors have to agriculture. Drought is responsible for about 50% of crop loss every year worldwide. Heat stress, especially due to climate change, also has a significant impact on agricultural productivity. Our major research organisms are rice, the staple food for half the world's population, and mouse-ear cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), the premier model plant species. The main systems that we study are heterotrimeric G-protein signaling cascades, guard cell signaling networks, and genome-wide stress modulation of mRNA structure-function relationships. At the cellular and molecular level, many of these mechanisms are shared by non-plant systems.

Responding to emergent challenges of a changing world requires an integrated approach to the study of stress physiology at many biological levels and with many different methods. We have integrated classical next-generation techniques with our own method, Structure-seq, to probe in vivo RNA structures genome-wide. Our methods are combined with classical genetics and physiology and augmented with transcriptomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and integrative modeling approaches to advance our understanding of how plants tolerate their environment.