Presentation Title

Bursting At the Seams: Exploring Dwarf Mistletoe Seed Dispersal Gene Expression

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented Friday March 31, 2017

Abstract

Dwarf Mistletoe (Arceuthobium americanum) is an interesting plant that is able to use explosive discharge to disperse its seeds. This means that it is able to shoot its seeds from host to host, reminiscent of a cannon. The exact nature of how this small plant is able to do this process is not fully understood but a prevailing hypothesis believes it is due to water pressure. The fruit of the female are able to trap water with a waxy coating and use thermogenesis to heat the water. So as the fruit draws in water it will generate heat, expanding the water which will be trapped by the waxy coating until enough pressure is generated to expel the seed, rupturing from the fruit. This study examines the genetic side of this hypothesis. Four key genes were chosen that help in this hypothesis, and are as follows: 14-demethylase, alkaline invertase, Shine3 and Cer1. cDNA samples from the growth period of the mature females (June- early September) were collected to be tested using quantative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qrtPCR). This method allows the user to replicate DNA strands and tells them how long it takes to make a certain number of copies of the same DNA. Primers are used to target specific genes for replication. Using this information gene expression patterns can be determined. As the cDNA, collected from dwarf mistletoe, can be ran, showing how long it took to make a certain amount of copies. With cDNA from the growing season, the time for each cDNA sample to make a set number of copies can be examined and compared. From this we can see if the expression of that gene is increased or decreased. If it takes a shorter amount of time, there was more of the gene expressed and vice versa. My project will show how the gene expression of these developmental genes changes over the growth period and how it relates to the water pressure hypothesis.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Joanna Urban

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Bursting At the Seams: Exploring Dwarf Mistletoe Seed Dispersal Gene Expression

Dwarf Mistletoe (Arceuthobium americanum) is an interesting plant that is able to use explosive discharge to disperse its seeds. This means that it is able to shoot its seeds from host to host, reminiscent of a cannon. The exact nature of how this small plant is able to do this process is not fully understood but a prevailing hypothesis believes it is due to water pressure. The fruit of the female are able to trap water with a waxy coating and use thermogenesis to heat the water. So as the fruit draws in water it will generate heat, expanding the water which will be trapped by the waxy coating until enough pressure is generated to expel the seed, rupturing from the fruit. This study examines the genetic side of this hypothesis. Four key genes were chosen that help in this hypothesis, and are as follows: 14-demethylase, alkaline invertase, Shine3 and Cer1. cDNA samples from the growth period of the mature females (June- early September) were collected to be tested using quantative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qrtPCR). This method allows the user to replicate DNA strands and tells them how long it takes to make a certain number of copies of the same DNA. Primers are used to target specific genes for replication. Using this information gene expression patterns can be determined. As the cDNA, collected from dwarf mistletoe, can be ran, showing how long it took to make a certain amount of copies. With cDNA from the growing season, the time for each cDNA sample to make a set number of copies can be examined and compared. From this we can see if the expression of that gene is increased or decreased. If it takes a shorter amount of time, there was more of the gene expressed and vice versa. My project will show how the gene expression of these developmental genes changes over the growth period and how it relates to the water pressure hypothesis.