Research Project

Tweaking Stomatal Development to Improve Water Use Efficiency and Biomass Production of Wheat Under Drought Stress

AWC contribution: $43,750

Start date: April 1, 2016

End date: March 31, 2019


Stomata are small openings found on plant surfaces that mediate gas exchange with the surrounding atmosphere. This structure is important for photosynthesis and water use efficiency as they control the amount of CO2 intake and water lost by opening or closing their structure in response to stimuli. This 3 year research involves characterization of stomatal density and distribution in wheat in the context of yield and drought tolerance.


Dr. Nora Foroud is a cereal molecular biologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge. Dr. Foroud started her post as a research scientist in 2011, but has worked in crop science at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on and off for a number of years prior, starting as an undergraduate student in 1996. She completed her PhD in wheat molecular biology through the University of British Columbia in 2011. Dr. Foroud is studying cell signalling mechanisms involved in regulating various traits in wheat, including both biotic and abiotic stress responses. She has supervised 18 students, currently including one MSc student and two PhD students through the Biology and the Biochemistry departments at the University of Lethbridge, where she holds an Adjunct Faculty position. She will also co-supervise a PhD student with a collaborator at the University of Concordia. Dr. Foroud is the co-leader of the Enhanced Fusarium and Rust Tolerance Pillar of the Canadian Wheat Alliance, and is currently principle investigator on three projects in wheat.

Jin Suk Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Concordia University. Dr. Lee completed her PhD in plant molecular biology and biochemistry through the University of British Columbia in 2008. She was a research associate in the Biology Department at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Washington, where she studied how different peptide signals are correctly interpreted to control diverse developmental processes in plants. Her research has resulted in a number of publications, including recent first author publications in Nature, Genes & Development and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Lee is recently chosen for the NSERC Accelerator Award, the Early Career Award by the American Society of Plant Biologists and the Concordia University Research Chair in Plant Science and Biotechnology.