Much has been published about how global warming affects plants, but little research has been done on why some plants are more resistant to climate change than others. Cristiane Calixto is a biologist who travels the world searching for answers to this underexplored question.
Her subject of study is rainfed rice, a species known for its resistance to heat stress. Deciphering the mechanisms behind resistance to global warming is likely one of the best ways to reduce its negative effects on agriculture, making the scientist’s project central to the food industry.
Calixto graduated from the University of São Paulo and earned a master’s degree in genetics. She received her doctorate from the University of Dundee in Scotland. She met her French husband in the UK and fell in love with British culture. Now living in Brazil, the couple have a daughter and form a trilingual family. She makes a point of preserving her husband’s customs, the Portuguese language, and English to remember her time in Scotland.
She maintains a varied list of passions with her family, including cooking, board games, and climbing.
Global warming adversely affects agriculture, with some cultivars more susceptible than others. Interestingly, rainfed rice cultivars have been shown to memorize heat stress, allowing them to be more tolerant of future heat stress. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this “memory” are poorly understood.
Recent advances in molecular biology enable us to study two of the most likely mechanisms behind this “memory”: epigenetic modifications and RNA control. Both mechanisms regulate gene expression without altering DNA sequences.
This project will conduct a global and integrative analysis of these two mechanisms in rice cultivars contrasting in heat tolerance. We aim to understand how heat “memory” is established and maintained, which could lead to new mitigation strategies for climate-resilient agriculture.