Ariel Moskowitz
Ariel Moskowitz
Year: 2016
Faculty Advisor: Georg Jander

Exploring the Role of CYP72A Genes in Maize Stress Response

Project Summary

Cytochrome P450 (CYP) genes are conserved in nearly all genomes and comprise approximately 1% of plant genomes. CYP proteins perform a wide range of biochemical functions, and are organized into subfamilies based on structural and functional similarities. CYPs are critical for the essential and species-specific biochemical pathways comprising plant primary and secondary metabolism. Secondary metabolites are required for plant stress responses and interactions with other organisms. A subfamily of CYPs thought to be involved with plant secondary metabolism is CYP72A, as these genes are expressed in response to various plant stress conditions. Little is known about the biochemical functions of this CYP subfamily. This study aims to elucidate the role of CYP72A genes, primarily CYP72A26, in stress response in Zea mays. Quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR was performed to investigate gene expression of CYP72A26 in three varieties of corn under normal and stress conditions. Additionally, metabolite analysis was performed to explore the biochemical role of CYP72A26 in wildtype and mutant plants that were exposed to caterpillar herbivory. Results suggest that CYP72A26 expression levels vary among different varieties of corn, but this gene does not appear to be significantly induced by caterpillar feeding. However, we detected metabolic differences between mutant and wildtype plants. Further investigation is necessary to explain the role of CYP72A26 in maize stress responses. Determining the role CYP enzymes play in plant stress response is critical for the successful selection of stress resistant plants. In the face of climate change and overpopulation, pesticide-free stable and stress resistant crops are essential.

My Experience

My experience as a research intern in the Jander lab has been exceptionally rewarding. Leeann Thornton has been an amazing mentor, both professionally and personally. This summer has taught me how to transition from an undergraduate student to a full-time researcher. I have also greatly enjoyed working with pioneers of scientific discovery, seeing up-close the work of extraordinary scientists who are changing the world for the better. Most importantly, this summer has allowed me to cohesively connect the various epistemologies I have gained during my undergraduate career. As a senior, I am transitioning from college to the professional world. I have learned how to integrate my skills, knowledges, and passions, and hopefully I will continue to do so as I strive to pursue a career in medicine.  I am excited to enter the next frontier of my education and I thank BTI tremendously for further preparing me for