Noah Legall
Year: 2015
Faculty Advisor: Zhangjun Fei

SNP study of the Ma1 gene

Project Summary

Malus domestica, commonly known as the domesticated apple, is an economically important crop grown worldwide. Consumers tend to favor apples that generally taste better, and breeders invest time and energy in order to improve apple taste. One of the major factors determining apple taste is the malic acid content present within the apple flesh, and geneticist have tied malic acid content to theMa1 gene, which creates a protein that pumps malic acid into the fruit. The gene itself is variable among different varieties and species in the Malus genus, with abundant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) found throughout the Ma1 open reading frame. The location of these SNPs could teach geneticists and breeders about genotypes that correspond to high and low acidity in apples, which could help to develop better tasting apples for the consumer. The purpose of this project is to identify SNPs among different Malus accessions in the Ma1 gene region through bioinformatics analysis of genome deep resequencing dataset and to then look for SNPs that are tightly associated with apple acidity by integrating the phenotypic acidity data.  New genetic markers potentially linked to apple acidity were determined. These potential markers need to be studied further to confirm their relationship with acidity phenotypes.

My Experience

I vehemently enjoyed my experience here at BTI this summer. I was always interested in a career in research, but the only thing that limited my idea of my future conducting research was being burdened with the heavy schoolwork I had during my first year at UNC Chapel Hill. I had conducted research before, but had trouble fully investing time to it due to my schedule. Working at BTI gave me the opportunity to focus solely on a research project this summer and I’m grateful I had the chance to give 100 percent to it. I grew up and was raised to deal with pressure and to find a way to make problems work, and I really came to appreciate that during the rigorous parts of the internship. I was grateful to have such supportive mentors as well; they taught me so much in the short time I was here!