Lydia Brown
Lydia Brown
Faculty Advisor: Mike Scanlon
Year: 2015

The Function of Sterile Apetala in the Development of Tomato Leaves

Project Summary

A tomato leaf has dorsiventrical asymmetry caused by a cell’s proximity to the meristem. Different signals are sent to the cells which cause them to differentiate into adaxial (top) cells, and abaxial (bottom) cells. The development of these two different cells is crucial for the formation of functioning leaves. The cells push against each other to create a flat leaf needed to do photosynthesis. Sterile Apetala, based on studies in Arabidopsis, is a gene regulator needed in the formation of leaves and petals. However, it has never been studied in other plants. When scanning normal developing leaves and radial leaves it was found that the STA gene expression was a lot higher in normal leaves than radial leaves. Creating an in situ will show where the STA gene is coded for in the leaf. This process includes cloning this gene and creating a probe, which can then be inserted into the meristem and primordia of a tomato plant. If Sterile Apetala is found in the adaxial domain it can be assumed that this gene has a major function in the formation of adaxial cells. A process will then be carried out which removes this gene from a tomato plant to see if it has an effect on the formation of leaves.

My Experience

I have immensely enjoyed my time working as an intern at BTI. I have learned so much about different techniques used in the lab, and how actual research is done. The work that I have done this summer has definitely prepared me for future lab experiences. The first few days were a bit difficult, as it was my first time ever working in a lab and a lot of information was given to me. As the weeks progressed I learned the flow of the lab and became knowledgeable enough to perform a lot of the processes on my own. Overall, I found this to be a great experience and know that it will benefit me as I go into college.