Judy Brusslan, PhD
Isolate T-DNA insertion mutants in genes that are up-regulated during leaf senescence and test whether these genes contribute to leaf aging.
Older leaves turn yellow and go through senescence. Nutrient mobilization during leaf senescence nourishes the growing plant. Understanding the regulation of this process is essential for reducing our dependence on nitrogen fertilizers and increasing agricultural sustainability. Our lab is taking a genetic approach to understanding leaf senescence by isolating mutants in genes expressed during senescence, and quantifying leaf senescence in these mutant lines. We use the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana for our studies. Students participating in these studies first learn how to isolate genomic DNA, perform PCR and analyze genetic data. Students then prepare DNA for sequencing, analyze sequence data, design primers, isolate RNA and produce cDNA. These second set of skills confirm that the gene of interest is not being expressed in the mutant. In the next phase of the research project, students grow mutants and wild type controls and compare chlorophyll and gene expression (using real-time quantitative PCR) during leaf senescence. These data are subject to statistical analysis to determine if differences are significant. These projects will equip students with many molecular genetics tools that are used widely in biomedical research.
Students meet bi-weekly during the semesters to present their research progress and weekly during the summer and winter breaks for journal club, where primary literature is read in detail in a friendly, supportive environment.
Students interested in computational analysis can help in the analysis of large RNA-seq and ChIP-seq data sets that are currently being collected using tools available in the R language.
Office: Molecular & Life Sciences Center Building, Room 203