Chelsea Alvarado
Year: 2013
Faculty Advisor: Adrienne Roeder

The function of the JAGGED gene in Arabidopsis thaliana sepal development

The lateral organs of the plant, which include the leaves, sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels initiate development at the shoot apical meristem from small groups of cells in a primordium. These collections of cells modify their growth and division as the plant requires specialized functions. For example, the floral organs adopt a form that functions for reproduction, while the leaves take on a wide, flat shape to provide surface area for optimal photosynthesis. This specification requires communication among and within cells. The aim of this research project was to determine the importance of the developmental gene, JAGGED, and plant signaling pathways for maintaining proper organ size in the Arabidopsis thaliana sepal. The JAGGED (JAG) gene is characterized as a crucial plant development regulator through cell cycle regulation. Although JAG’s impact on organ size and shape has been extensively researched, little is known about its functional mechanism or its interaction with plant signaling pathways, specifically with those of strigolactone and KLUH. To identify certain genetic interactions between JAG and these pathways, we verified double mutants through genotyping and characterized them through phenotyping, using confocal imaging and SEM. Utilizing these techniques, we observed genetic interaction between JAG and KLUH. With further experimentation, these findings can help clarify the sepal’s mechanism for development and can be applied to related organs, such as leaves. Because many leaves are considered vegetables and are vital to human health, understanding how these and other plant organs develop plays a role in improving crop production and agriculture.

My Experience

I entered this program feeling nervous about my first time conducting laboratory research. However, because of great mentoring and support from my fellow interns, I quickly became more confident in my abilities as a researcher. Throughout this experience, my mentor and the other scientists in my lab have helped me learn how a research laboratory functions. I felt free to ask questions, which facilitated a more effective learning environment. Before coming to the Boyce Thompson Institute and Cornell University, I could not imagine the wealth of information I would gain from this internship. Not only have I become proficient at essential research techniques, but I have also gained a much deeper understanding of genetics and the crucial role that genetic analyses play in science. Because of this outstanding program, I have gained a new appreciation for the scientific community and am more motivated in my pursuit of a scientific career.