Ella Blomfield-Brown
Year: 2022
Faculty Advisor: Aleksandra Skirycz
Mentor: Romina Minen

“Investigating growth in Nicotiana tabacum plants under stress”

Project Summary:

Previous studies indicate that dipeptides reduce the negative impacts of stress response in the metabolic processes of plant growth. In particular Tyr-Asp, a proteinogenic dipeptide, was shown to inhibit the enzymatic activity of GAPC1. Tyr‐Asp inhibition of GAPC activity is associated with the shift of the glycolytic flux toward the PPP and increased NADPH/NADP+ ratio, thus improving tolerance to oxidative stress.

The purpose of my project this summer was to determine whether the addition of small molecules, like linear and cyclic dipeptides, help plants to cope with abiotic stress. For this experiment liquid cultures of Nicotiania tabacaum plants were used.

At this point in time, relatively little is known about the functions of protegonic dipeptides, other than what is stated above. Dipeptides are short-lived intermediates of proteolysis, making them difficult to study. This experiment aspires to learn more about the role dipeptides play in terms of metabolic functions, in hopes to learn how to improve plant growth under stressful conditions.

My Experience:

 My experience in the Skirycz lab at the Boyce Thompson Institute has been very beneficial to me both academically and personally. Coming into the program, I had little knowledge about small-molecule regulatory networks. Over the course of the program, I gained invaluable experience and exposure to the field of chemical biology. I grew by working independently, as well as working with other members of the Skirycz lab. As a high school student, this was the first time I have experienced lab work. This program was tremendously helpful in exposing me to the scientific world and has left me with many questions about plant science research. This internship has furthered my interest and curiosity in discovery-driven science, and I am now considering pursuing plant biology or a related field in college.