Scholar: Lina Castano
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. John Cushman
Research Topic: "Proteomic Expression Study in the Resurrection Plant, Selaginella Lepidophylla"
Abstract: Understanding the mechanisms used by plants to survive demanding environmental conditions, such as water deficits due to drought, is vital to the development of genetic engineering strategies to improve or retain agricultural productivity in the face of ever-larger populations, environmental stresses, changes in rainfall patterns, and global warming.
Desiccation tolerance is a rare adaptive response of plants that allows resurrection plants to exist in environments with intermittent drought by entering into a state of metabolic inactivity wherein vegetative structures are preserved under air-dried conditions. When water availability returns, these plants resume their metabolic activities and repair any damage that occurred while in the dry state.
This kind of survival mechanism can be better understood by studying it using several scientific approaches including genomics, metabolomics, and proteomics. For the McNair research, I optimized the protein extraction protocol for Selaginella lepidophylla tissue based on a phenol extraction method followed by washing steps for removing membrane lipids. In addition, I will compare the protein expression profiles between hydrated and desiccated tissues of this resurrection plant using two-dimensional difference polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (DIGE) in Dr. John Cushman's laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno. The DIGE analysis will provide a comparative snapshot of biochemical processes in the hydrated and desiccated states. This kind of differential analysis will include post-translational changes in proteins such as phosphorylation.
New Scholar: Fall 2008
Graduated With Baccalaureate Degree: May 2010
Masters or Doctoral Program Update: Accepted into the Plant Biology Ph.D. program at Penn State University for fall 2010.