Asha Duhan
Year: 2017
Faculty Advisor: Lukas Mueller

“Identification of a genomic region in lycopersicoides associated with resistance to Pseudomonas syringe pv. tomato” 

Project Summary:

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is an economically important crop and a nutritious staple used to enrich diets. Speck is a disease caused by Pseudomonas syringaepv. Tomato, and specifically targets tomatoes, resulting in dark spots on the tomato fruit and leaves. Speck can be lethal to tomatoes and results in a drastic decrease in fruit yield and marketability. An abundance of natural variation, including resistance to disease, exists in wild relatives of tomato and many species in the tomato clade can be crossed with cultivated tomato.

In this project, S. lycopersicoides LA2951, a speck-resistant accession, was analyzed to determine differences in the genome to that of tomato, such as structural differences that may ​​​​​​confer resistance. S. pennellii was also analyzed for comparison. Informative plots have been generated using the results of alignment programs run on these genomes, to visually illustrate structural differences such as inversions and deletions that occur between these three genomes. Furthermore, primers were designed and used in the laboratory techniques of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Gel electrophoresis to make progress on mapping the resistance locus in two  S. Lycopersicoides introgression lines. These introgression lines both contain large segments of the region of interest in S. lycopersicoides on chromosome 4.

The future goals of this project are to narrow down the large resistance locus to a few genes that can later be isolated and bred into the tomato line. This research could lead to a greater understanding of plant-pathogen interactions and serve as a model for plant resistance.

My Experience:

I really enjoyed my internship at BTI. Coming into the program, I had minimal knowledge in the field of bioinformatics. As the program progressed, I have gained invaluable experience and exposure in both the field of bioinformatics and in plant laboratory research. I was fortunate to be able to experience both the field of bioinformatics and laboratory research, and both aspects of my project were extremely helpful and further enriched my knowledge on how research is conducted. I would like to thank my mentors, Suzy Strickler, Adrian Powell and Sammy Mainiero on helping me with my research project and also introducing me to the world of scientific research. This internship has furthered my interest and curiosity in discovery driven science, and I am now considering pursuing biology or a related field in college.