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Featured Profile: Bob Sharp


Bob Sharp

Dr. Robert “Bob” Sharp has a worldwide reputation for plant stress expertise.

Each year, drought costs billions of dollars in lost crop yields, raises food prices and contributes to global malnutrition. Sharp has spent more than thirty years studying the effects of drought on plant growth.

Sharp is a renowned expert in root physiology. He, along with several University of Missouri colleagues, was recently awarded a $4.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Plant Genome Research Program to study the nodal roots of corn, through which mature plants take up most of their water. Under drought, the nodal roots must grow through dry surface soil to reach available water. However, very little is known about the mechanisms that allow the roots to achieve this essential feat. The information generated by this multi-disciplinary “lab-to-the-field” project will lead to the development of innovative approaches to enable corn and other cereal crops to access more water and increase yield under drought.

Other areas of study for Sharp include the role of hormones in controlling the growth responses of stressed plants and how cell walls change during drought to allow continued root elongation. Sharp’s research is often interdisciplinary, employing techniques from physiology, mathematics, biochemistry and molecular biology to understand the regulation of plant growth and, ultimately, improve crop performance.

Dr. Bob Sharp is a professor of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and is director of the University of Missouri’s Interdisciplinary Plant Group, a community of 60 faculty-led research teams from across the MU campus. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

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Related Initiative(s):
Food for the Future