Jasmine Peng
Year: 2015
Faculty Advisor: Jim Giovannoni

Tracing Gene Expression amongst Constituent Cell Types in the Pericarp of Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

Project Summary

The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), is a universally preeminent basis for fruit study and research and is an important component of the human diet. Previous research studying gene expression in the tomato fruit has almost entirely focused on the pericarp as a collective whole as opposed to differentiating the tissue into the individual constituent cell types and tracing the activity of each separately. Using the undivided pericarp provides an average of gene expression levels, at best, whereas isolating the components should create a more specific understanding of fruit development, diversity, and response to stress as well as provide a clearer understanding of the distinct levels of gene expression in specific tissues and at various stages of fruit development. This can potentially lead to innovations in shelf-life, yield and nutritional quality with benefit for humankind in economics, health, and sustainable production. My project primarily focuses on genetically profiling the genes located in the distinct tissues of the pericarp of the tomato fruit throughout the different stages of development using three principal steps: RNA extraction, strand-specific RNA sequencing library construction, and RNA sequencing, which will enhance previous NSF studies in tomato genomics and create a template for further research in model agricultural and commercially important plant species. A substantially more complete picture of fruit development should also result from the data collected from this project, as well as a new platform for biological discovery.

My Experience

This summer’s experience at the BTI has taught me valuable lessons in both lab techniques and in working in a professional setting. I would like to thank everyone in the PGRP internship program and the Giovannoni Lab for being such a welcoming group and making my experience such an enjoyable one. My mentor, Yimin Xu, has prompted me to have greater confidence in myself by encouraging the belief that mistakes are opportunities for learning and teaching. The workplace environment was such a friendly one that I never hesitated to ask questions and there was never a day I didn’t look forward to coming to work. I was given advantageous experience in key research techniques that will benefit me as I pursue studies as an undergrad and graduate student. BTI’s summer internship program has been such a rewarding experience that I wouldn’t hesitate in joining again and suggesting enthusiastically to others.