The long-term goal in the Roston Lab is to understand how membrane dynamics can contribute to plant health. Membranes are the barriers through which cells experience their changing environments. The dynamic responses of membrane lipids and proteins are required both as signals of and physical responses to a variety of biotic and abiotic factors. One of the most dramatic membrane responses is seen in a plant’s response to cold and freezing. Membranes are directly damaged by cold conditions, which challenge their fluidity. A wide variety of plant species from diverse regions and evolutionary origins have developed tolerance to temperate winter conditions, allowing them to grow year-round. In northern latitudes, these species outperform crop species domesticated in tropical regions, such as maize and rice. Researchers in the Roston Lab use the model system Arabidopsis thalianaas the basis for studies involving the roles of specific proteins or enzymes because of its excellent genetics and established biology. To compare responses in tolerant and non-tolerant species, researchers also incorporate a diverse range of grass species. Studies are performed using a combination of genetics, molecular biology, protein biochemistry and biophysical approaches.