Erin Mattoon
Erin Matoon
Faculty Advisor: Wojciech Pawlowski
Year: 2012

The Role of the ZF2 Gene in Meiotic Recombination

This summer, I studied the ZF2 gene in maize, which might be involved in regulating meiotic recombination.  Maize plants that are mutated in this gene were grown in the field. I used PCR and sequencing to reveal they indeed had the mutation in the gene. Further analysis of meiotic cells from these plants was intended to show what impact the mutation had on the progression of meiosis. To study progression of meiosis, I used two proteins participating in meiotic recombination, the RAD51 recombination protein and the H3 histone methylated at lysine 4 (H3K4-me3). Meiocytes were embedded in polyacrylamide pads to preserve shape, and treated with anti-RAD51 and anti-H3K4-me3 primary antibodies and fluorescent secondary antibodies. These fluorophores were then visualized under a fluorescent light microscope to show the number and distribution of the protein foci. Additionally, I began work on creating an anti-ZF2 antibody that would allow for the visualization of the ZF2 protein with the same microscope. The goal of this project and many other projects in the Pawlowski lab is to identify the mechanisms involved in meiotic recombination so that someday, the recombination process may be controlled. This could give opportunity to cross plants with increased efficiency and arrange ideal genomes.

My Experience

As a Boyce Thompson intern, I had experiences that I couldn’t get anywhere else as a high school student.  In addition to the meiosis specific information I learned working in the lab, I gained insight to other branches of plant biology through the numerous seminars and talks over the course of the program.  This knowledge is invaluable as I continue with my schooling and start my career.  I was also able to learn many lab techniques that I will use in the future.  This lab experience confirmed in my mind that plant biology is my future.  I am extremely grateful to Dr. Pawlowski and his lab as well as the PGRP program.