Project Description: 

Photosynthesis is a fundamental process to the productive growth of plants and algae. Light in natural environments is often fluctuating and photosynthesis is optimized to be maximally productive in shade. In saturating light, green organisms must dissipate excess energy by a process called non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) to prevent damage to delicate photosynthetic tissues. However, the transition between photosynthesis and NPQ is not optimized in crops and the strategies to deploy NPQ differ between species. Undergraduate researchers will work alongside a graduate student to create genetic constructs from diverse organisms to express NPQ-related genes from algae and moss into model flowering plants.

Undergraduate's Role: 

This project will involve molecular cloning to generate constructs for expression of NPQ genes from algae and moss into Nicotiana benthamiana plants and measuring the transiently expressed genes’ effect on N. benthamiana NPQ. Mentees will learn and apply: 1) Golden Gate cloning and E. coli transformations, 2) PCR and Sanger sequencing, including primer design and sequence analysis, 3) agrobacterium-based transient expression assays in N. benthamiana, and 4) analysis of non-photochemical quenching efficiency by chlorophyll fluorescence. Additional biochemical techniques, as well as opportunities for independent research projects, may also be incorporated based on mentee interest.

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 

Minimum qualifications: Biology 1A or 1B (may be taken concurrently), 3.0 GPA, and interest in genetics. Hours are
negotiable, but a commitment of at least 12 hours per week is expected.

On Campus
9-12 hours