Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Allison Rothrock Rose Hills

Characterizing Genes Underlying Serpentine Adaptation in Monkey Flowers

High metal content, low levels of essential nutrients, and poor water retention make serpentine soil a uniquely challenging environment and a source of strong selective pressure. The yellow monkey flower, or Mimulus guttatus, an annual wildflower native to the western United States, has adapted to these harsh conditions; coupled with its wide range, this ability to survive on serpentine soil makes Mimulus guttatus a model organism for studying how plants adapt to local environments. This study will focus on three genes — involved in root architecture and the uptake and transport of essential nutrients — that show key variations between on- and off-serpentine populations. The CRISPR-Cas9 system will be used to generate plants with nonfunctional variants of these genes, which will provide important insights into the role these genes play in Mimulus guttatus’s ability to survive in serpentine conditions.

Message To Sponsor

I can't thank the Rose Hills Foundation enough for this opportunity. This was such an extraordinary experience, and it really helped me grow as both a person and a scholar. I quickly found that I chose to spend upwards of 35 hours a week in the lab because I was so excited to keep my project moving, and I'm so grateful for the chance to develop that enthusiasm. I've learned so much about general lab practices and procedures, the process of using the CRISPR-Cas9 system to transform plants, and how to communicate and present research. I'm looking forward to continuing my research in the fall through an honors thesis and taking the confidence, direction, and experience that this summer has given me into my future endeavors. Thank you so much!
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Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Mentor: Benjamin Blackman, Allison Gaudinier
Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
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