Date of Award

12-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Plant and Environmental Science

Advisor

Bauerle, William L

Abstract

Determining the consequences of human impact on our current and future climate is proving to be to be one of the greater challenges in modern biology. Current global models employing coupled atmosphere and terrestrial carbon feedbacks range in their predictions from the inconsequential to that of vast food shortages and species extinctions. However, there is hope that the emergence of new molecular approaches will revolutionize our understanding of plant and animal responses to a changing environment, allowing for higher predictive power when scaling up from the level of the individual to ecosystem-scale processes. This dissertation is an initial attempt for the melding of molecular biology with ecophysiology and acts as an entry point for the emerging field of `ecogenomics.` The first chapter gains insight into the physiological control points of heat-limited photosynthesis between ecotypes of the common forest tree species`, red maple (Acer rubrum L.). The second chapter investigates the molecular contribution of a single enzyme, Rubisco activase, in the inhibition of photosynthesis between heat- sensitive and -insensitive ecotypes of red maple. The final chapter continues to delve further with molecular biology techniques and employs the use of a well-known model species` (Arabidopsis thaliana) to discover novel molecular and physiological linkages for heat-limited photosynthesis

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