Robinson, Dave , Lau, Joann .
Involve Your Botany Students In Biomedical Research: Join The Ambrosia Project.
Up to 20% of the human population develops hay fever in response to exposure to the pollen of Ragweed. It has been estimated that over one billion dollars is spent in the U.S. each year on the treatment of hay fever, causing millions of people to miss school or work. Pollen biology, therefore, is an excellent way to link plant science with medicine. A major source of allergenic pollen is Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida L.), a common weedy plant. In spite of the huge public-health impact of this plant there are currently only seven nuclear DNA sequences from A. trifida in the NCBI nucleotide database (as of April, 2011). To examine gene expression in Giant Ragweed pollen we constructed a cDNA library using mRNA isolated from dehiscing male flowers. Our Botany students have been characterizing this library as one of their laboratory exercises for the past four years. The Ambrosia Project is a collaborative effort by which students randomly select cDNA colonies for plasmid purification, and perform restriction digestion and gel electrophoresis and then send the plasmids out for sequencing. Once sequenced, the students distinguish cDNA from vector and predict the translation product. Students do BLAST searches, learn about the gene product, and speculate on its function in plants. Already students have isolated cDNAs that are homologous to metallothionein, germin, osmotic-stress protein kinase, auxin response factor-2, and a sweet-tasting thaumatin-like protein. Numerous genes for allergenic proteins have also been identified, including lipid transfer proteins and pectate lyase. Students appear to enjoy the prospect of discovering unique genes in this uncharacterized species, and like seeing their names published in the NCBI EST database. At the same time they learn important molecular techniques and concepts that are applicable to other biological disciplines. We have already published 529 accessions in the NCBI EST database and are looking for instructors at other colleges and universities to collaborate with us in characterizing this library.
Log in to add this item to your schedule
1 - Bellarmine University, Biology, 2001 Newburg Road, Louisville, KY, 40205, USA
Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Location: Khorassan Ballroom/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 5:30 PM