Involvement of Mai1 in effector-triggered immunity
Crop plants are susceptible to many pathogens which can negatively affect the appearance and marketability of various types of products. Plants like tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) have evolved mechanisms to resist certain pathogens. Traditionally, breeding has been used to develop new resistant tomato cultivars, but overall success has been limited and continued crop losses have led to the increased use of chemical pesticides. In order to improve the development of resistant crop plants, it has been necessary to identify and characterize the mechanisms involved in plant immune responses, which include PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI) and effector-triggered immunity (ETI). ETI involves the recognition of pathogen effector proteins by plant host machinery leading to programmed cell death. Mai1 is a protein involved in ETI in tomato, and the purpose of this project was to identify other proteins that associate with Mai1 during ETI by using a yeast two-hybrid screen. Several interesting candidate proteins were identified and further testing will be performed in order to determine the functional significance of these interactions. Overall these results will assist in improving our understanding of plant defense mechanisms with the ultimate goal of developing tomato plants that are more resistant to pathogen infection.
Being an intern at BTI made me have a better understanding of what research is. This summer I performed a yeast two-hybrid screen under the supervision of a postgraduate associate. I learned and practiced techniques such as DNA and protein extraction, PCR, cloning, yeast transformation and immunoblot, among others. Working with a mentor was helpful because the guidance provided made learning easier. I learned new techniques and observed the role and tasks of an active scientist. Participating of this internship with other undergraduates was an important element because I can shared experiences and met people that have similar academic and professional goals. After this experience I have a better idea of what my research interests are and what I have to do to pursue a career in science.