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Student’s research into heat-resistant enzyme earns award at International Wheat Congress

Posted by struscott | August 14, 2019
Kaviraj standing with large academic poster
Studying improved heat tolerance of vital enzymes in wheat, Kaviraj Singh earned a best poster award at the International Wheat Congress.

 

Recognized for pioneering work that could help vital food crops survive a changing climate, Kaviraj Singh, doctoral student at Washington State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, won an award for the best research poster at the First International Wheat Congress, July 21-26 in Saskatoon, Canada.

The congress drew hundreds of scientists from around the world to discuss wheat research, production, and improvements.

Changing climate poses a threat to photosynthesis—plants’ method of turning sunlight into energy—in important crops like wheat. That’s because heat stress affects photosynthesis in wheat, causing significant losses in yield and biomass.

Working in Professor Kulvinder Gill’s laboratory, Singh researches improving heat tolerance of important wheat enzymes through genetic engineering. He also studies the molecular makeup of Rubisco activase, an important activating enzyme used in photosynthesis.

Under heat stress, Rubisco can’t keep pace, and photosynthesis declines and eventually stops as temperatures rise.

Looking at closely related, heat-adapted crops, Singh is working to find or create an ideal form of the enzyme for better photosynthesis in hot conditions.

His work could help grow more and better wheat crops, benefiting farmers and people worldwide.