Transcriptome profiling of susceptible and resistant watermelon cultivar response to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Niveum
Watermelon is an important crop worldwide; by yield, it is the fifth most harvested vegetable and most harvested fruit. However, the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Niveum limits watermelon crop yields all over the world. Plant breeders have discovered several watermelon cultivars that appear to have enhanced resistance to Fusarium Wilt. These cultivars are often unappetizing compared to commercial watermelon varieties, which are typically susceptible to the disease. Our research is focused on finding the genes responsible for disease resistance to the pathogen using the RNA-seq approach. We hypothesize that important resistance genes will be expressed differently between resistant and susceptible cultivars upon the infection of the pathogen. The results of our research will allow the use of marker-assisted breeding to combine disease resistance and appetizing taste in a single watermelon cultivar. In addition, the analysis of the differentially expressed genes may provide clues as to the mechanisms behind resistance to Fusarium Wilt, thus our findings could potentially be applied to other plants.
The PGRP program gave me the opportunity to experience scientific research first-hand, an opportunity that I would not otherwise have had in high school. I learned many skills about the application of computers to the study of the life sciences, but even more importantly, I experienced data analysis and critical reasoning in a scientific setting. In my time here, there was a lot of hard work, but the work was worthwhile and meaningful. I always felt like there was an important reason behind everything that we did. The PGRP program has shaped the path of my future career immensely and I have a better idea of what I want to pursue in college and my graduate studies. My only regret about the PGRP program is that I didn’t participate sooner.