The Relationship Between Water Stress and Fruit Softening: The Cuticle as a Key Factor
The plant cuticle plays a critical role in preventing desiccation, but many aspects of its formation and structure-function relationships are poorly understood. Fruit of the tomato mutant delayed fruit deterioration (dfd) have exceptionally long shelf life and resist desiccation for many months after ripening. We are currently investigating whether different water regimes affect the composition and properties of fruit cuticles from dfd and from the cultivar Ailsa Craig (AC), which has normally softening fruit. It is anticipated that a better understanding of cuticle development in the context of responses to water stress will provide new insights into the molecular bases of prolonged shelf life in fleshy fruits.
I decided to apply for an internship at BTI because I wanted to see what it was like to perform research at a top institution, and what it was like to work in a molecular lab since my background is in the ecology and evolution of plants. The internship has fulfilled both of these goals in strides, and has helped me formulate ideas on what the next step in my academic career will be. Even though I am going to pursue my original interests in the ecology of plants, the molecular lab skills I gained from the summer internship will allow me to work on a larger range of research questions.