Shining a Light on the Expression of Heterologous Proteins in Orchids and Arabidopsis thaliana

by Melissa Martin, Dana Lembke, Jessica Knutson and Amanda Roder
Faculty advisor: Dr. James Hampton

The Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2008 was given to several scientists for their studies of the green fluorescent protein as a reporter system. This research has opened the doors to using GFP on both the molecular and organismal levels. The purpose of our research is to study gene expression in plants, utilizing bioluminescence as a reporter gene system.  There are several combinations of promoter, vector and fluorescent gene inserts that we have worked on, with the intent of inserting them into the plants of interest, namely Arabidopsis thaliana and orchids. The second step in this process, which is what we have focused on this semester, involves tissue culture and establishing the appropriate cell lines. We are also looking to the academic community to find other plasmids that already have the fluorescent protein in them that we can then insert into our cell cultures. These transgenic plants are predicted to fluoresce when bombarded with ultraviolet light and provide information about gene expression.