The use of plants for food, materials, aesthetics and fuel has relied mostly on plant forms and architectures designed by nature through thousands to millions of years of evolution. However, we have increasing abilities to engineer novel plant designs, both in the lab and in the field. This will result in plants that are much more useful for horticulture in the 21st century and beyond, for purposes like production of food in controlled environments, production of biofuels in an environmentally and socially conscious manner, growing crops with less resource use, pharming, and better integration of plants into urban environments. All this requires identification of genes that influence plant form, and understanding how these genes are controlled, both endogenously and by the environment.
This project involves understanding how flowering is initiated in apple trees and how apple fruit accumulates its color. Typical lab work including washing dishes, organizing, inventory, processing plant materials. Molecular work such as PCR, electrophoresis, preparation of DNA and RNA. Computational work on MacOSx with Unix, coding in Python, Excel, web resources; management and manipulation of large datasets. Independent project a possibility.
Sophomore or junior. Creative and critical thinking a must. Strong logical and problem-solving skills. No previous work in lab or computer required. 10 h/wk, 1-3 credits possible.