Zoe James
Faculty Advisor: Magdalena Julkowska
Year: 2021

“Investigation of the role of DUF247 gene in the regulation of salt stress in Arabidopsis Thaliana

Project Summary:

Salt stress alters plant architecture by impacting the growth and development of different organs, such as main and lateral root growth. Other alterations in plant architecture, such as changes in root-to-shoot ratio are hypothesized to contribute to salt tolerance. Previous screening into salt stress-induced changes in root-to-shoot ratio identified underlying genetic components using Genome Wide Association Study. One of the identified loci was DUF247, encoding a protein with Domain of Unknown Function. The role of DUF247 in regulating root to shoot ratio, as well as general salt tolerance in Arabidopsis is unknown. We aimed to characterize the DUF247 loss-of-function mutant to identify the potential link between this gene and its contribution to the regulation of salt stress response. We compared the duf247 mutant and wild-type (Col-0) plants with or without salt treatment for seed germination and seedling survival rates. Further, we monitored dynamic changes in growth in the above-ground tissues for the soil grown plants for both duf247 mutant and Col-0 plants, and measured the evapotranspiration rate, growth rate as well as rosette fresh weight. Overall, our results showed no significant difference between Col-0 and duf247 mutant plants in terms of germination and survival assays. The future plan will be to repeat the plate experiments using higher concentrations of salt.

My Experience:

My summer internship in the Julkowska lab at BTI has been a fulfilling and extremely valuable experience. My mentor, Maryam Rahmati Ishka, always positively supported me and allowed me to build independence in the lab with confidence in my work. Being welcomed into lab meetings, weekly seminars, and journal clubs provided me with a holistic experience as a plant scientist beyond working at the bench. I learned techniques such as RNA extraction, Real-time qPCR, cDNA synthesis along with other protocols and methods for my experiments. I also enjoyed organizing my results and data onto my poster and preparing to present it. Through the many opportunities to learn about future studies and careers in science, I feel more confident in my future plans for college and am excited to conduct research in the future.