Tony Kinchen
Year: 2019
Faculty Advisor: BCBC

Halting the Growth of Tomato Speck

The purpose of our research was to develop a method to increase a tomato’s resistance to the plant bacterium Pseudomonas syringae, a bacterium that manifests itself in the form of black spots on the leaves the tomato plants and in drastic cases can cause the leaves to shrivel, wilt, and die. This bacterium is not only limited to tomatoes, and has been known to spread to other crops. Our goal for this project was to correctly identify the gene of the tomato that is involved in its response to the bacterial speck. Our hope is that by doing this we will be able to produce a breed of tomatoes that contained a natural resistance to the bacterial speck, and aid agriculturalists whose economic stability depends on tomatoes. By producing a breed of tomato that can resist the effects of the tomato speck, we will be to preserve tomatoes grown in farms and other agricultural centers. It is important to note that this research can also be applied to other studies that involve similar circumstances and is not simply limited to tomatoes. Pseudomonas syringae possesses the ability to infect a large variety of plant species aside from tomatoes, meaning the research we acquire could be used to help other crops create a breed of plants with a stronger resistance to the bacterium. We hypothesize that by using primers and PCR we can identify the DNA sequence responsible in our subjects producing a novel (different) response and our subjects who maintained the wild type expression. The wild type expression typically demonstrates signs of infection through black specks and gall, a swelling of the tissues of the plants, while the novel responses demonstrate changes in the reactions to the Pseudomonas syringae bacterium. After we established this sequence, we then amplify this gene in our tested population to develop tomatoes with this resistance.


My Experience

During my time spent here in the BTI internship, I have gained many useful experiences that will help grant me insight in my future. While working in Bioinformatics, I was able to develop a strong grasp of what working in a coding based lab is like. I learned that while the concept may seem intimidating at first, it becomes easier to work with as time goes on and while you gain more experience. I learned that working in lab based primarily on computer work requires patience to deal with problems such as the command failing, the computer taking a large period to process, or simply the output not being what you desired. Working in the Bioinformatics course reinforced the idea of not being afraid to seek out help, rather than risk causing yourself more struggle with something you are unable to grasp. While working Martin lab, I was able to learn new strategies for doing lab work that will prove useful for me in the future. I was even able to perform some standard lab procedures for future experiments. For example, while in the lab I performed a successful Extraction from our plant subjects in the Green house. My time in Martin lab helped me to develop an experience of working in a lab environment, and has demonstrated to me what it feels like to work alongside others to complete a greater goal. My time spent here at BTI has given me many useful strategies and experiences that will help in my future in Biology.