Mary Wildermuth, Professor

Closed (1) Salicylic acid biosynthesis and regulation in Arabidopsis

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Salicylic acid (SA, 2-hydroxybenzoate) accumulates in Arabidopsis leaves in response to pathogen infection and acts as a signaling molecule to induce plant defensive responses. We propose that conjugation of SA to the amino acid Aspartate changes it to an inactive form of the hormone that is then catabolized. In this way, the active concentration of the hormone SA can be tightly regulated. We have identified mutants and candidate genes that impact this process and seek to further characterize their function in the regulation of the plant immune response.

Perform a variety of assays to assess the role of identified mutants and candidate genes to assess their function in SA metabolism and plant immunity. Includes planting and caring for plants, performing disease assays, extracting SA metabolites for analysis, and quantitative gene expression analysis.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Rebecca Mackelprang, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Role: The undergraduate will work directly with a graduate student and the PI to design and implement experiments relevant to the above goals. Methodologies utilized will likely include RNA isolation and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), plant pathology assays, and small molecule extraction and HPLC analysis. Qualifications: Introductory Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry (preferred), Organic Chemistry (preferred), Genetics and Plant Biology major preferred. 12-15 hrs/week preferred.

Weekly Hours: 12 or more hours

Closed (2) Elucidation of powdery mildew factors controlling powdery mildew growth on Arabidopsis

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Powdery mildew is an obligate biotrophic fungus that infects a broad variety of plants including plants of agronomic (e.g. grapevine) and ornamental (e.g. roses) import. It has lost many essential metabolic pathways and relies on the plant for these compounds. We are interested in figuring out the powdery mildew genes required at each phase of its infection process and are using a newly developed RNA silencing approach to do so.

Project goal includes silencing of fungal targets to assess their impact on fungal growth and reproduction. Metabolite acquisition and other required functions may also be assessed. As this project includes technology transfer - customer segment analysis, market research, and product fit may also be included.

Role: The undergraduate will work directly with a senior graduate student, postdoc or project scientist and the PI to design and implement experiments relevant to the above goal. Experimental methodologies utilized may include molecular biology, plant pathology, and cell biology approaches. Specific assays include: powdery mildew infections and quantitative disease scoring, RNA analyses, gene silencing, microscopy, and/or metabolite analyses. These will be performed as possible under COVID19 guidelines and approvals. We currently are able to have URAP students work in the laboratory.

Remote tasks include literature, data, and bioinformatic analyses to facilitate prioritization of gene targets.
There are also entrepreneurship opportunities associated with this project including customer segment discovery, market research, and product fit assessment.

There will be at least two remote meetings per week - one with your direct supervisor Dr. Taneja and one with the entire Wildermuth lab.




Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Dr. Jyoti Taneja, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: Qualifications: Introductory Biology, Chemistry, exposure to Molecular Biology desired but not required. Pursuing business degree or interest in agbiotech also desired. Students who are on-campus and can be in the lab, following COVID guidelines will be prioritized. In addition, prefer new students who can work with us over the summer doing field research (paid NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates) and next year F2021/Sp2022.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs