Mithzy Pena
Mitzhy Pena
Year: 2012

Regulation of the citrate transporter AtMATE by CBL-CIPK interactions to increase Al resistance inArabidopsis thaliana

Aluminum (Al) enters roots cells and affects growth by disrupting nutrient and water uptake as well as several cellular processes including signal transduction pathways. As a result, plants experience diminished growth, and crop yields decrease, negatively impacting agricultural production.

Under acidic conditions Al is readily solubilized from nontoxic aluminumsilicate clay into the phyto-toxic form Al3+. Because up to 50% of arable land consists of acidic soils, Al toxicity has become a predominant issue in agriculture worldwide.

Previous studies have found that calcineurin B-like proteins (CBLs) and their targets, CBL-interacting protein kinases (CIPKs) are involved in the regulation of plasma membrane transporters in Arabidopsis thaliana responsible for the exudation of organic acids that chelate Al+3 to prevent it from entering the cells. The Arabidopsis MATE (AtMATE) citrate transport activity is regulated by a CBL-CIPK pair when expressed in Xenopus oocytes. In this study, we seek to establish a relationship between CBL-CIPK and AtMATE in planta through qRT-PCR, bimolecular fluorescence complementation and GUS histochemical assays.

My Experience

This summer I was able to gain valuable laboratory techniques, such as practice in quantitative real-time PCR, hydroponics, and usage of vector constructs in bimolecular fluorescence complementation for protein-protein interaction assays. Additionally, I established meaningful professional and academic connections with incredible scientists in my lab and in neighboring labs. My experience at the United States Department of Agriculture and BTI has helped me obtain a sense of the importance of plant research to improve and advance agriculture and thus, the living standard of the world population. I look forward to attending graduate school and further exploring projects involving plant research.