Dr. Clinton Whipple, Department of Biology
Progress towards research objectives
Progress has been achieved in most of the five research objectives. In some cases we have modified our original aims in the light of what can be reasonably expected of inexperienced undergraduates. Details of each aim follow:
AIM 1 Identify novel mutants defective in bract suppression. We have carried out a screen for enhancers of the tasselsheath1 (tsh1) mutant during the summer of 2010 and 2011 at Purdue University. These screens have been very productive resulting in 12 new enhancer of tsh1 (ent) mutants. In addition several other mutants with novel and interesting inflorescence phenotypes. Mapping populations have been generated for these novel mutants.
AIM2 Genetic characterization of tsh mutants. We have established the recessive nature of all new tsh mutants. Additionally, several have been shown to have no phenotype without the presence of tsh1. We have decided to map each mutant individually rather than perform complementation crosses as this is more time efficient. Each mutant as at some stage of mapping at this point.
AIM3 Phenotypic characterization of mutants. The phenotyping has turned out to be more demanding than expected. Since careful phenotypic analysis requires significant experience with the morphology of maize, we are only now beginning to have students with enough training and experience to perform this part of the proposal. Consequently we have decided to delay detailed phenotypic analysis until after positional cloning of each mutant.
AIM4 Mapping of bract mutants. Map locations have been determined for tsh2, and Fbr1, and we expect map locations soon for tsh5, and tsh*-rs423. As described above, mapping locations are being determined for all novel tsh mutants isolated.
AIM5 Fine mapping of select mutants. Flanking markers have been identified for tsh2, Fbr1, and Vg1. Positional cloning was completed for tsh2. Significant progress has been made toward fine mapping of both Vg1 and Fbr1.
Participation and deliverables generated by undergraduates Student
|Name||Time in the lab||Current location|
|Steven Williams||1/10-8/10||BYU Master’s, my lab|
|Alicia Garff||1/10-8/10||LDS Mission|
|Jouber Santos||4/10-12/10||Lab Technician, Univ. of Miami|
|Dinesh Adhikary||4/10-4/11||Graduate student, SFASU|
|Nick Ames||4/11-4/12||Grad School Cornell|
|Sydney Mcdonald||1/11-4/12||PA School (Boston Univ.)|
|Holly Waddel||1/11-present||My lab, ORCA recipient|
|Rachel Thayer||1/12-present||My lab, Honor’s Thesis|
Five of these students have made significant contributions to the project. Steve Williams accompanied me in the summer of 2010 to perform screens in Purdue, where we identified several new mutants. Steve has since begun his Master’s in my lab. Dinesh Adhikary and Nick Ames have made significant progress towards mapping and positional cloning of Vg1 and presented a poster at the 2012 Maize Genetics Conference. Sydney Mcdonald completed the positional cloning of tsh2, and a manuscript is currently in preparation for that work. Finally, Rachel Thayer undertook positional cloning of Fbr1 as an Honor’s thesis, and will complete that work early in 2013.
Generating a new mentoring environment at BYU
As a new faculty in the Biology Department, I have spent a large portion of my time during these past two years establishing my research lab. Overall, I am pleased with the mentoring environment that has emerged although it has taken some time to develop, and has been a process of adjustment as I learn how best to involve undergraduates in my research program. I will briefly describe some lessons learned as well as the current mentoring practices that have proved effective.
The nature of the developmental genetic research we do is inherently long term, and requires an extended period of technical training before students are productive. My initial difficulties involved finding students that could commit to the extensive training and remain in the lab long enough to make progress on the research objectives. Initially, much of the training was done under my direct supervision, which gave students a lot of face time and a solid background in lab technique. On the downside, I quickly learned that many of these students were not willing to commit to more than a single semester or two. Thus, much of the first year of the project was consumed finding dedicated students that would commit beyond the initial training.
Results and findings of the project
The experiments designed in this proposal were not likely to lead to publication by the end of the two-year term. Indeed, that would have been unreasonable considering the nature maize as a developmental system. However, significant progress has been made towards isolating and mapping several novel maize bract mutants. This preliminary data formed an important part of a CAREER grant in review at NSF.
Undergraduate student wages: $11,007.61
Includes: molecular biology reagents, consumables for two summer field seasons at the BYU Spanish fork Farm, and High-Throughput genotyping of mapping populations by Iowa State University
Includes two trips to Purdue University during the summer for mutant screens
Funds remaining: $0