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TRiO Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program
Welcome to the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program
Michelle Keller is a biology major interested in plant pathology. She intends to pursue a PhD, and wishes to conduct research focused on the results of interactions of plant cultivars and their fungal and bacterial associates. Michelle hopes her future work will contribute to agricultural endeavors that seek to avoid the use of soil degrading chemical pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers, by encouraging farming practices that allow plants to utilize resources available to them from their mycorrhizal and bacterial partners. Her goal is to promote plant health, which she believes will have positive ecological effects while producing higher quality food for human and animal consumption.
Currently, Michelle spends time working in Dr. Joanna Matos' lab, assisting with C. elegan research. During her spare time, she enjoys traveling, bicycling, hiking, camping, mushroom collecting, and huckleberry picking.
Summer 2012 McNair Internship Faculty Research Mentor: Dr. Robin O'Quinn, EWU Biology
Abstract: The Effects of Root-Fungi Mutualism on the Development of Trichomes on Tomato Plants
Keller, Michelle (Robin O'Quinn), Biology, Eastern Washington University, Washington
Numerous crop plants demonstrate increased nutrient uptake, pathogen resistance and tolerance to drought and herbivory when they form symbiotic relationships with fungal species. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) infect plant root cells, enabling them to acquire nutrition from the plant while enhancing root function, thus promoting overall plant health. Plants also have structural strategies to cope with environmental stresses. Trichomes, projections from epithelial cells, found on leaves and stems can counter herbivore attacks and mitigate some of the ill-effects of drought. Trichome shape and density diminish the effectiveness of herbivores by slowing the rate at which they chew, limiting their mobility, and by delivering secondary metabolites, which are often poisonous. The overall density of trichomes, known as pubescence, promotes water conservation by reflecting solar radiation and reducing evapotranspiration by slowing airflow over plant surfaces. We hypothesize that inoculated tomato plants will acquire water and nutrients more readily and experience less stress, which will increase trichome densities on leaves and stems.
This study aims to determine 1) if the density and types of trichomes on Solanum lycopersicon differ as a result of inoculation with AMF, and 2) if they differ in pubescence between hybrid and heirloom cultivars.
Soils were autoclaved, and seeds for three high sugar variety tomato cultivars, two heirloom and one hybrid, were treated with a hydrogen peroxide solution to prevent contamination. Treatment plants were inoculated with four species of AMF (Glomus mosseae, G. intraradices, G. aggregatum, and G. tunicatum), and housed in the EWU Greenhouse in a random arrangement that was subject to rearrangement throughout the study to reduce variation from heat and light. We will conduct trichome counts on adaxial and abaxial surfaces of leaf segments from the third mature leaflet and on a cut portion of stem. We will use ANOVA and correlation/regression to assess differences in trichome densities among and between treatment groups and cultivar types.