Emily Meyers
Emily Meyers
Year: 2012
School: Ripon College
Faculty Advisor: Dan Klessig

Identification of novel salicylic acid-binding proteins

Plants have a multilayered immune response system to protect against attacking pathogens. These layers include pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-triggered immunity (PTI) and effector-triggered immunity (ETI) that occur at the site of pathogen infection. In addition, systemic acquired resistance (SAR) extends pathogen resistance to the entire plant. The activation of PTI, ETI, and SAR all require the accumulation of salicylic acid (SA), which pinpoints SA as an essential component of the plant immune response. Studies have also found SA to be involved in many other plant processes including growth, development, and resistance to abiotic stresses. To aid in determining the complex SA signaling networks in plants, on-going research in the Klessig lab is focused on identifying proteins that directly interact with SA, called SA-binding proteins (SABPs). Several dozen Arabidopsis thalianacandidate SABPs were identified through a photo-affinity labeling technique. To validate whether these candidate proteins are real SABPs, each must be purified before further analysis. Six candidate SABPs were cloned and expressed in E. coli; four of them have been purified thus far and will be tested for their SA-binding activity using several independent approaches. This research towards identifying SABPs facilitates the dissection of the complex SA signaling mechanisms in plants.

My Experience

This Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) internship at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research has not only exposed me to the lifestyle and research environment of plant scientists, but also to molecular biology techniques that I had not had the privilege to perform before. My undergraduate institution has very limited, low-budgeted research opportunities, therefore this Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internship was essential for me to gain the research experience necessary for graduate school acceptance. Overall, I had a great experience and gained research knowledge that can only be acquired through hands-on laboratory work with highly skilled, experienced researchers.