Crops in a Changing Climate Environment-
Palak Chaturvedi group

Room: 3.056
Djerassiplatz 1
1030 Vienna, Austria
M: +43-6889930175

Research Focus

Core Team from l.t.r: Dr. Arindam Ghatak, Univ. Prof. Wolfram Weckwerth, Dr. Palak Chaturvedi


Crop productivity is threatened by adverse environmental conditions which is further aggravated by global climate change. By 2050 the global population is expected to reach 9 billion, 60-70% of which are living in developing and underdeveloped nations. The exponential increase of the world population and the adverse climatic conditions have a more intense impact on crop productivity and it will be very difficult to keep pace with the demand and supply of major food grains. The immediate solution to this problem lies in protecting, developing, and expanding the available germplasm against abiotic stress conditions and to develop stress tolerant varieties.

Crop in a Changing Climate Environment Group focuses on the physiological and biochemical regulation of growth and functioning of crop plants subjected to abiotic stresses including drought, heat and cold. We have given much attention to the crop vegetative and reproductive physiology under drought, heat and cold stress using high throughput profiling ‘OMICS’ approaches.

Projects to address Stress Responsive Mechanisms of Crop Plants

Concept of Developmental Priming

In angiosperm, pollen development is a well programmed and crucial process which controls plant sexual reproduction and productivity. This process of development is highly sensitive to environmental changes like temperature, drought and nutrition. Therefore, it is of great interest to study the pollen stress - and developmental biology under fluctuating extreme environmental conditions. In order to address the issue of global climate change, major focus of the breeding approach is to improve plant productivity.

We have generated a cell specific reference-proteome of Tomato pollen development from the ecotype Red Setter which includes microsporocytes (pollen mother cells), tetrads, microspores, polarized microspores and mature pollen (Chaturvedi et al., 2013).

From the identified proteins and there predicted functions, it was observed that energy-related proteins are increased during the later stages of development, which indicates that pollen germination depends upon pre-synthesized proteins in mature pollen. In contrast, heat stress-related proteins (e.g. HSP70, HSP22 and HSP20) are highly abundant in very early developmental stages, suggesting a dominant role in stress protection. Each stage showed a specific reprogramming of the proteome, these specific responses in pollen development process was termed as "Developmental priming "as opposed to" Defense priming “(Chaturvedi et al., 2013, 2016).

Chaturvedi P, Ischebeck T, Egelhofer V, Lichtscheidl I, Weckwerth W (2013). Cell specific analysis of the tomato pollen proteome from pollen mother cell to mature pollen provides evidence for developmental priming. Journal of Proteome Research 12 (11): 4892 – 4903. doi:10.1021/pr400197p

Chaturvedi P, Doerfler H, Jegadeesan S,, Ghatak A, Pressman E, Castillejo MA, Wienkoop S, Egelhofer V, Firon N, Weckwerth W (2015). Heat treatment responsive proteins in different developmental stages of tomato pollen detected by targeted mass accuracy precursor alignment (tMAPA). Journal of Proteome Research 14:4463-4471

Chaturvedi P, Ghatak A, Weckwerth W (2016). Pollen Proteomics: From stress physiology to developmental priming. Plant Reproduction 29:119–132

Based on our published reference data for pollen development. we will investigate transcriptome and metabolome of five developmental stages of tomato pollen from pollen mother cells to mature pollen under controlled favorable temperature and heat/cold stress conditions. The aim is to distinguish between developmental and environmental priming or defense priming and their role in pollen viability and plant productivity. Further, morphology, vitality and germination of pollen will be assessed by novel methods such as high resolution X-ray computed tomography (HRXCT), and classical techniques such as light and electron microscopy (LM, EM) as well as germination tests (Lead by Anke Bellaire).

Identification of Drought Responsive Protein and Metabolite Markers to Support Marker Assisted Breeding (SMART Breeding)

Ghatak A*, Chaturvedi P*, Nagler M, Lyon D, Bachmann G, Postl W, Desai N, Varshney RK, Weckwerth W (2016). Comprehensive tissue-specific proteome analysis of drought stress responses in Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br. (Pearl millet). Journal of Proteomics 143:122–135

Ghatak A, Chaturvedi P, Weckwerth W (2017). Cereal crop proteomics: Systemic analysis of crop drought stress responses towards marker-assisted selection breeding. Frontiers in plant sciences 8:757

Ghatak A, Chaturvedi P, Paul P, Agrawal GK, Rakwal R, Kim ST, Weckwerth W, Gupta R (2017). Proteomics survey of solanaceae family: current status and challenges ahead. Journal of Proteomics 169 : 41-57

Ghatak A, Chaturvedi P, Weckwerth W (2018). Metabolomics in Plant Stress Physiology. Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

We will investigate the potential impact of drought stress on C3 wheat and C4 pearl millet using a comparative proteomics and metabolomics approach to understand there physiological and molecular response mechanism

We have ongoing collaboration with ICRISAT to generate large number of proteome and metabolome reference maps for various tissues which will greatly help in understanding cellular processes and signaling pathways

In collaboration with Vienna Metabolomics Center (VIME) and ICRISAT, our aim is to study drought tolerance in chickpea and analyze the two-line hybrid system and epigenomics for hybrids in pigeon pea

Subprojects to Address Specific Questions in Response to Drought/Heat Stress and International Collaborations

  • How root architecture is remodeled during water stress and confer stress tolerance plants?
  • What is the role of cuticular waxes in crop plants, identification and characterization of cuticular waxes in response to heat and drought stress?
  • What are the gene regulatory networks that guide developmental responses to drought stress?
  • Root exudation: Identification and characterization of BNI compounds
  • In addition to the questions addressed above, we are interested in how stress affects the grain filling and how yield is maintained under drought stress?

Our research is extensively collaborated with (a) International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India (b) Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India (c) University of Delhi, India (d) Nanjing Agricultural University (e) Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JiRCAS), Tsukuba, Japan


Approaches range from high throughput profiling (HTP) (i.e. transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics), stress physiology, mutant screening, Light Microscopy (LM), Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy (SEM and TEM), High Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography (HRXCT), and data integration.

Crop Species: Tomato, pearl millet, wheat, rice, chickpea, pigeon pea, groundnut.