Tin Cho Aye
Tin Cho Aye headshot
Year: 2023
Faculty Advisor: Andrew Nelson

High Throughput Phenotyping of Arabidopsis Mutants Under Stress

Deepening the understanding of how stress affects plants is important due to climate change. Understanding how plants deal with stress and improving their resilience could allow for breeding plant cultivars with a better chance of surviving against stress. There are many types of stress that plants will face, such as heat stress, drought stress, and more. The main focus of this project was drought stress and oxidative stress. In the lab, we used a combination of measuring roots, assessing germination, and examining the shape of the rosette of a plant to investigate the plant response to oxidative and drought stress. The plant that was used was Arabidopsis. This was because Arabidopsis grew quickly allowing there to be a faster process of experiments. Specifically, we used Arabidopsis lines that contain T DNA insertions within long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that are thought to be associated with oxidative stress. Seedlings of all lines grown on plates that contained different amounts of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) were observed to have differences in germination and root development, with some lines being more or less affected by the stress. Also, under a high-throughput system, we monitored the Arabidopsis growth in a 14-day time-series collection point using plant images. We identified the mutants which perform better under drought conditions relative to wildtype by extracting rosette area information from images. These trials proved that plant stress can affect a plant’s physical appearance and that these stress-associated lncRNAs and mutants-associated genes may play a role in their ability to cope with stress.

My experience in the Nelson Lab was unforgettable. The environment was welcoming and it was a wonderful experience to understand what a work environment would be like. I was assigned to a flexible and understanding mentor and lab. The lab meetings and ice cream moments were memorable. I gained skill in using the pipette along with knowledge about plant stress. I also encountered amazing people and I learned a lot. The weekly seminars on Wednesdays with other interns allowed me to learn about other careers and gain life skills. There was plenty of work with plants and time to get to know the other interns. BTI was a lot of fun and if I had the option I would do it again. Overall my experience at BTI and in the lab allowed me to better understand myself and what I would like to do with the future.