VERMILLION, S.D. – Bernie Wone, an assistant professor of biology at the University of South Dakota, has been awarded $85,400 from the South Dakota Board of Regents to investigate genes for improving drought stress responses in crop plants, such as canola.

Wone’s research will try to determine if certain genes improve water-use efficiency and/or drought tolerance in less drought tolerant plants.

Wone said his research is critical in helping solve food insecurity issues related to a warming planet. “If you think in terms of global population we’re projected to be at about 9 billion people by the end of the century, so we have to find some way to provide food security whether that be for our nation or other nations,” Wone said.

Wone received a Track I grant, which is considered the most competitive type of grant offered by the BOR. With the funding, Wone said he’s been able to recruit another graduate student to help him with his work. The research team includes a master’s student, Atia Amin, as well as a Ph.D. student, Kumudu Rathnayake.

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