Iman Richie
Year: 2012
Faculty Advisor: Jocelyn Rose

Characterization of CD2 Protein Expression in Tomato

Plant epidermal cells provide the interface with the external environment and as such have evolved a range of mechanisms to tolerate stressful environmental factors. A critical example is the cuticle, a heterogeneous layer comprising the polyester polymer cutin and a variety of waxes, which covers the aerial surfaces of terrestrial plants. The primary function of the plant cuticle is to restrict water loss. Other critical roles include the limitation of pathogen infection, protection from UV radiation, structural support, and prevention of organ fusion during organogenesis. Research over the last two decades has unveiled several genes that play a role in cuticle biosynthesis, but very little is known about their regulation. The Rose lab has utilized a variety of techniques to identify genes that contribute to cuticle formation, one of which involves characterizing tomato mutants with atypical cuticle structure and composition. Of the mutants identified, cutin deficient 2 (cd2) has a mutation in gene encoding a putative transcription factor from the HD-Zip IV family. Based on the cd2 phenotype, it is hypothesized that CD2 is a regulator of cutin biosynthesis; however, this remains to be confirmed. In order to obtain supporting evidence for this hypothesis, an important goal is to determine when and where CD2 is expressed in a range of tomato organs. This has been the focus of my research. Characterizing the role of CD2 has great potential agricultural importance and may open the door for crop improvement through better control of postharvest disease and transpirational water loss.

My Experience

My experience as an intern at Cornell has been highly informative and has given me a taste of the real world of research. It was an invigorating feeling to be a part of a research team, while still being able to work independently, and make my own contribution to the overall research project. Working together with graduate students that understood the core and depths of biology gave me insight into the field of plant genetics and the opportunity to work in a highly competitive research environment. Also, the weekly speakers and seminars were definitely motivating and added to my knowledge of plant genetics. It was great to be working alongside like-minded fellow interns that were equally determined and present as a support group in the challenging field of scientific research.