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Erika Norris

Erika Norris
Project Title: 
Related Functions of Signaling Proteins in Maize Stomata & Arabidopsis Roots
Program Year: 
Biology and Psychology
Michelle Facette

With the continued support of the Facette Lab and the CAFE Scholars program, I spent this summer studying signaling proteins within Arabidopsis thaliana in regards to proteins in Maize. ZmPAN1 (found in Maize), and AtPNL1and AtPNL2 (found in Arabidopsis) are signaling molecules that are used for cell division. Despite being found in different organisms, PAN1 is an ortholog to pnl1 and pnl2, meaning they have a common ancestor and one can be studied in relation to the other. PAN1 is used for making stomata in the leaves of Maize, while the pnl proteins are used in Arabidopsis roots to form the cell plate during division. By studying Arabidopsis, I hope to learn more about PAN1 and how it functions in Maize. In this project I focused on the roots of Arabidopsis, looking at the columella in the root tip and root hairs further up on the plant. Using fixing and staining techniques alongside microscopy, I analyzed and imaged these root sections to determine a difference between wild type plants and pnl1 and pnl2 mutants. I have plans to further investigate this topic in the Facette lab by continuing with the same growth and staining methods and by conducting a double blind analysis with the data collected.

Alongside this project, I also assisted the Facette lab with genotyping of Maize DNA samples from the previous summer’s harvest. This involved numerous rounds of PCR and gel electrophoresis. I also assisted in the lab’s field at the UMass Research Farm for the first time, which was a fun experience. I am continuously grateful for the members of this lab and look forward to continuing my research and learning with their assistance.