Skip directly to content

Minimize RSR Award Detail

Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

  • Richard S Abrahams
Award Date:05/11/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 216,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 216,000
  • FY 2021=$216,000
Start Date:08/01/2021
End Date:07/31/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology FY 2021: The evolution and characterization of C4 and C3-C4 phenotypes
Federal Award ID Number:2109877
Program:NPGI PostDoc Rsrch Fellowship
Program Officer:
  • Gerald Schoenknecht
  • (703) 292-5076

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Yale University
City:New Haven
County:New Haven
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

This action funds an NSF Plant Genome Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology for FY 2021. The fellowship supports a research and training plan in a host laboratory for the Fellow who also presents a plan to broaden participation in biology. The title of the research and training plan for this fellowship to Richard S. Abrahams is "The evolution and characterization of C4 and C3-C4 phenotypes". The host institutions for the fellowship are Yale University and Purdue University and the sponsoring scientists are Dr. Erika Edwards and Dr. Jennifer Wisecaver. The order Brassicales contains several crop species important to global human nutrition. Species like Gynandropsis gynandra are considered potential superfoods because of their C4 photosynthetic ability to more efficiently capture carbon in the atmosphere and convert that to sugars for growth. While being closely related, plants of the mustard family (Brassicaceae) have not evolved this efficient form of photosynthesis despite occurring in areas where such a trait is advantageous. This research will leverage plant genomic datasets to explore plants' evolutionary limitations in the Brassicales for acquiring this useful trait. By elucidating the underlying mechanisms that prevent C4 or intermediate phenotypes, breeding efforts for key crop species may develop C4 varieties and improve global food production. This research's broader impacts initiative focuses on photosynthesis as a common K-12 subject and the impact of representation in the classroom. This initiative is designed to inspire an interest in STEM careers for underrepresented groups through authentic storytelling and effective science communication. With over 66 known independent evolutions of C4 photosynthesis, many instances have yet to be characterized by science due to complex phenotyping. Although the Brassicales has diversified within hot and arid environments, prime context for the evolution C4, only three origins of C4 are known in the order, in the family Cleomaceae, and one origin of C3-C4 intermediates in the Brassicaceae. This lack of trait convergence may be due to certain metabolic evolutionary constraints. This project will develop a bioinformatic tool for identifying potential C3-C4 intermediacy in candidate species from transcriptome data to characterize these constraints in an evolutionary context. This tool will then be used to assess candidate species across the order Brassicales to identify novel origins of C4 or C3-C4 traits. Finally, coexpression network methods designed to detect specialized metabolic modules will be adapted to address fundamental questions around the evolution of C4 and C3-C4 mechanisms. The programs developed to run these analyses, and all genomic data generated from this research will be freely available for the broader scientific community. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

For specific questions or comments about this information including the NSF Project Outcomes Report, contact us.