Cameron Mitchell
Year: 2016
Faculty Advisor: Georg Jander

Transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses reveal the herbivore-induced natural variability in jasmonate-mediated plant defense responses of two inbred maize lines

Project Summary

In maize plants, Jasmonates are a class of signaling molecules responsible for responses to biotic stresses. Specifically, jasmonates play important roles during plant defense against insect herbivores and necrotrophic pathogens. In our research we explored the genetic and transcriptomic differences between the defenses of the B73 and NC350 maize lines. In measuring the expression of jasmonate encoding genes after herbivory, we found an increasing trend in the level of expression. In general, the B73 line exhibited the most induction which suggests that the defensive response is greater than that of the NC350 line. In addition to gene expression analysis, we conducted a caterpillar performance assay to test the defensive ability of both plant lines. Our results revealed that the NC350 line is slightly more defensive than the B73 line since the caterpillars favored feeding from the B73 line. In our metabolomic testing, we measured the abundance of four defensive compounds, DIMBOA-Glc, DIMBOA, HDIMBOA-Glc, and HDIMBOA. We found that the level of caterpillar performance is inversely correlated to the amount of HDIMBOA present and that the NC350 line produces a greater amount of HDIMBOA making it increasingly defensive.

My Experience

Over the past six weeks at BTI I learned an incredible amount of skills to aid in my future endeavors. I came into the program hoping to get a head start in the field I intend to pursue in college, yet I have received much more than a head start. The fact that someone can come into a program and be involved so quickly and so completely is unbelievable. This was my first intern research experience, and I am not sure that any future internship could top the enjoyment I’ve had throughout this one.