This project seeks to understand fundamental signaling networks within the plant circadian clock. The Harmon laboratory studies endogenous circadian clocks in plants. Circadian rhythms allow organisms to anticipate daily changes in their environment and adapt accordingly through appropriate metabolism, growth, and development. Like a mechanical watch, the circadian clock must be adjusted to stay synchronized with night-day conditions. This project is part of a larger effort to define the mechanisms utilized by the plant circadian clock for this adjustment. We recently identified the SIC protein as being important for adjusting the circadian clock in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This project will ask if the SIC protein acts in the nucleus, the cytoplasm or both subcellular compartments. Different types of SIC protein will be expressed in Arabidopsis plants. Analysis will include molecular and whole-plant analysis of mutant protein behavior, circadian rhythms, and physiological temperature responses.
he undergraduate researcher will participate in two aspects of this project. The first is the construction of plasmid-based expression vectors for transformation of plants. The student will use molecular biology tools, including polymerase chain reaction, DNA sequencing, and DNA/RNA preparation. The second is characterization of phenotypes exhibited by lines expressing SIC protein variants. Phenotypes include SIC protein subcellular localization with fluorescence microscopy, circadian rhythms, and growth responses in different light and temperature environments.
Applicants should have completed some courses in biology, preferably at the molecular level. Work will be scheduled in 2-4 hour time blocks. Be at least a sophomore, GPA 3.0, Biological Science major.