Isabella Zepp
Isabella Zepp headshot
Year: 2023
Faculty Advisor: James Giovannoni

Exploring the macrolous rin mutation

The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) has served as the model system to understand ripening processes because it is characterized well genetically, grows quickly (typically 3-4 months), and is of great economic importance. The RIN gene in wild type (WT) tomatoes is a transcription factor and an important component of the ripening process. However, the naturally occurring rin mutant makes all ripening processes impaired including ethylene production, (a hormone that triggers fruit ripening), carotenoid biosynthesis, (development of red pigment in the fruit) in addition to normal changes in the color, texture, and flavor. A section of the C domain in the MC gene is the putative EAR (ethylene-responsive element binding factor-associated amphiphilic repression) domain. This region was previously suggested to act as a repressor and cause the severe non-ripening phenotype. In order to determine which region of the MC gene acts as a repressor, CRISPR-Cas9 was used to target the MC-EAR domain as well as the whole MC part of the gene in the rin mutant.

Working in the Giovannoni Lab this summer has been an incredibly enriching experience. I was exposed to what a scientific career may look like and gained a better understanding of the research process. Working in a formal lab setting allowed me to cultivate crucial research skills and greatly improved my lab technique. Overall, this internship was an incredibly positive experience where I was able to better understand my interests and passions, as well as make great connections. I am incredibly grateful to my mentor, Julia Vrebalov, and to BTI for giving me this wonderful opportunity.