Ilea Swinehart

Identification of a Gene Involved in Hormone-Induced Moss Development

Hormones are known to cause critical changes during the development of animals and plants.  This study is designed to increase understanding of how hormones influence the development of multicellular organisms.  The moss Physcomitrella patens is a good organism for observation of hormone-induced development because it is a simple system with which to work as compared to seed plants or animals.  Physcomitrella initially grows as a filament and produces a single cell on the third cell back from the tip which is the target for the hormone cytokinin.  Upon exposure to cytokinin, the developmental pathway changes and a leafy plant is formed which can then complete the life cycle by producing spores.  A common way of studying how a biological process works is to create a mutant because by learning what has gone wrong in the mutant, one can better understand how the normal process occurs.  We have created a mutant by the random insertion of a segment of foreign DNA into the moss nuclear DNA.  This mutant is particularly interesting to us because it cannot respond to cytokinin and, therefore, it does not complete its life cycle.  Our goal is to identify the disrupted moss DNA sequence. We have amplified the DNA using PCR and are currently focusing on changing the DNA into a form from which the sequence can be determined.  Once the sequence is obtained we will try to determine what effect this gene has in the transition from filamentous growth to the leafy plant-the key event in moss development.

Faculty Mentor: Margaret Dietrich

UPDATE:

Ilea presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Plant Biologists July 7-11, 2007 in Chicago, IL.

Ilea presented at the annual conference of the Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology April 28-May 2, 2007 in Washington, DC.

Ilea presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Developmental Biology June 17-21, 2006 in Ann Arbor, MI.

Page last modified May 13, 2011