Week 1: Starting my Literature Search

Apr 01, 2022

Welcome back to my blog!

This week I began reading literature on agricultural technologies and completing work for my internship. During my reading, I focused my search on the history of sustainable agriculture. This week I read from “The land question and agricultural reform”, a primary source I accessed through JSTOR [3]. This pamphlet describes the issue of not efficiently utilizing England’s agricultural land and suggesting different incorporation of science into agriculture to increase yield and listed suggestions for farmers. The author chastises farmers for sticking to traditional methods of farming and not adapting to the times. Among other advice, one interesting recommendation from this author is to hire more female workers. This source is a helpful reminder that people have been trying to optimize farming for centuries.

Over the last two weeks, my mentor, Dr. Penelope Lindsay, and I have begun the process of evaluating how the gene eyes-absent is expressed in arabidopsis. Dr. Lindsay is interested in the eyes-absent gene because it was found in the genome of mutated corn during the NAM project to sequence the genome of various maize species. This gene was surprising to see in maize/ plants in general as the gene is known for its role in the development of the eyes. In fact, the name eyes-absent comes from the fact that when the gene is expressed in fruit flies, the flies do not develop eyes. So, Dr. Lindsay and I are curious to see what developmental and phenotype traits eyes-absent has in plants. We are using the plant arabidopsis, a relative of mustard, cauliflower, kale, etc., because it is a model organism with a short life cycle and because it can be easily transformed. Transformation means different things between the study of animals and plants. In plants, bacteria, and yeast, transformation refers to the introduction of foreign DNA to the host’s cells [1,2]. Arabidopsis is unique. It can be transformed by simply having its flowers dipped into agrobacteria, this technique is called a floral dip [4]. (Agrobacteria is a disarmed plant virus that is used by scientists to insert foreign DNA into plants.) This greatly speeds up the experimental process. Before I joined Dr. Lindsay in the Jackson Lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, she used the floral dip technique to transform some arabidopsis with 3 different constructs. The first two have red fluorescent protein (RFP) and each has 2 unique guides. The last construct has the eyes-absent gene and a green fluorescent protein (GFP). GFP and RFP are used to identify transformed seeds. Within the 2 weeks, my mentor and I screened the arabidopsis seeds to find the transformed seeds, sterilized the seeds and plated them on grow media, and planted our first round of screened seedlings in soil. 

Arabidopsis Floral Dip


This week my mentor went to a maize conference in St. Louis with other members of the lab. While they are at the conference I worked on designing primers for a colony PCR assay that I will perform next week.

My Senior Project Proposal Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U7XrivQoiXMfwNkkbcWnfcfcDRtrUY7w_tlK6WiyN4o/edit?usp=sharing

1. Lakna. (2018, July 7). Difference between transfection and transformation. Pediaa.Com. Retrieved April 1, 2022, from https://pediaa.com/difference-between-transfection-and-transformation/

2. Parker, J. (2001). Bacteria. Brenner’s Encyclopedia of Genetics, 254–257. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-374984-0.00128-5

3. The land question and agricultural reform. (pp. 1–26). (1800). [Pamphlets]. [Central Agricultural and Tramway Board of England?],. https://jstor.org/stable/10.2307/60227294

4. Zhang, X., Henriques, R., Lin, S.-S., Niu, Q.-W., & Chua, N.-H. (2006). Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of Arabidopsis thaliana using the floral dip method. Nature Protocols, 1(2), 641–646. https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2006.97

2 Replies to “Week 1: Starting my Literature Search”

  1. Sofia C. says:

    Iza, this is fascinating research! To learn about the arabidopis seeds and the transformation process is so interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

  2. Courtney H. says:

    Iza, this is so interesting! I look forward to hearing more about arabidopsis in the coming weeks.

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