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Abstract Detail

Education & Outreach

Robinson, Dave L [1], Manning, Chad M [1], Blair, Kathryne J. [1], Lau, Joann M [1].

The Ambrosia Project:  Student Characterization of a cDNA Library Derived From Ragweed Pollen.

About 36 million Americans are allergic to pollen released by grasses, trees, and weeds.  A major source of allergenic pollen is Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida L.), one of the most common weedy plants in the U.S.  As of April 2007, there were only six nuclear DNA sequences from Giant Ragweed published in the NCBI GenBank.  To examine gene expression in Giant Ragweed pollen we constructed a cDNA library from mRNA isolated from dehiscing male flowers.  cDNA clones have already been isolated from this library that are homologous to metallothionein-like genes, auxin response factor-2, aspartic endopeptidase, a 60S ribosomal protein, and an anther-specific protein from sunflower.  This library is meant to be used by undergraduates to introduce them to basic molecular-biology concepts and techniques.  Students randomly select cDNA colonies and subculture them for plasmid purification, mapping and sequencing.  Once sequenced, the students learn how to distinguish cDNA from cloning vector and to predict the translation product.  Students do BLAST searches of both DNA and protein sequences and are asked to learn enough about the gene product that they can speculate on its function in the plant.  Students appear to enjoy the prospect of discovering a unique gene in an uncharacterized species (and perhaps publishing it in the NCBI GenBank), while at the same time learning new techniques (like plasmid purification, restriction digests, gel electrophoresis) that are applicable to other biological disciplines.  Since Ragweed-pollen allergenicity is an important health issue this also serves to show students (many of whom are interested in attending medical school) that plants are important to biomedicine.

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1 - Bellarmine University, Biology, 2001 Newburg Road, Louisville, KY, 40205, USA

Student research
aspartic endopeptidase
60S ribosomal protein
anther-specific protein
Auxin Response Factor.

Presentation Type: Plant Biology Abstract
Session: P
Location: Exhibit Hall (Northeast, Southwest & Southeast)/Hilton
Date: Sunday, July 8th, 2007
Time: 8:00 AM
Number: P46014
Abstract ID:1542

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