Alex Weibly
Alex Weibly headshot
Year: 2023
Faculty Advisor: Georg Jander

Localizing Catechol-Glucoside Synthesis Genes May Provide New Insight Into The Functions of Maize Benzoxazinoids

Benzoxazinoids are a type of grass species metabolite that are essential to herbivory and pathogen defense. Prior research has indicated their potential to carry information across the cell, regulating non-benzoxazinoid metabolite networks. Operating off of this theory, a metabolomics analysis determined that benzoxazinoids involved in callose production in maize regulate Acetylcatechol -Glucoside and Catechol-Glucoside, two non-benzoxazinoid metabolites. My research localized the enzymes involved in the synthesis of these compounds in order to understand their function and provide evidence for benzoxazinoids’ purpose as a signal molecule. We transferred three candidate genes into EGFP vectors and infiltrated N.Benthamiana, a model plant for maize. Only the acetyltransferase gene was localized, and flourescencing occurred in the chloroplasts and cell membrane. This suggest that the compound could be involved in photosynthesis or conversion of molecules to different forms.

My research experience at BTI gave me insight into how labs are funded and what daily life in a lab is like. I gained exposure to a variety of techniques for DNA and structural analysis, including protoplast isolation, PCR, proton spectrum emissions (MSQC and COSY), and plasmid isolation. After the initial learning process, the lab environment became very conducive to growing my independence, and the ceiling for learning remained exceedingly high. It was a very special opportunity to work with people from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds, and I am grateful to my mentor and everyone in the Jander Lab.