Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Katie Shalvarjian Rose Hills

Genome-Scale Fitness Profiling of Ralstonia Solancearum in Xylem Sap

Ralstonia solanacearum is a unique vascular plant pathogen that thrives in xylem sap. As a nutrient-poor but chemically complex environment, xylem sap provides distinct obstacles to bacterial growth, yet little is known about R. solanacearum within the framework of genome-wide fitness. Using a randomly barcoded transposon site sequencing (RB-TnSeq) mutant library, we can measure gene-specific fitness contributions to R. solanacearum in xylem sap, along with various growth media, to understand what genes drive its fitness in a natural context. As a causal factor of bacterial wilta disease that wipes out crops of small shareholder farmersit is important to understand R. solanacearum within the context of its natural environment in order to accurately represent its pathogenicity in planta. This study aims to develop a genetic understanding of R. solanacearum virulence in xylem sap, providing important information that can be used to develop a holistic understanding of its growth and spread.

Message To Sponsor

Pursuing full-time research this summer has been an empowering and exciting experience, and wouldn't have been possible without the SURF team and the Rose Hills foundation. This experience has played a huge role in my development as a young researcher, and has allowed me to explore questions through independent research. My time in the SURF program has inspired me pursue a PhD in microbiology, and has helped me define my goals as I continue down this path. Thank you so much to the Rose Hills foundation and SURF for advocating for and funding undergraduate research!
Profile image of Katie Shalvarjian
Major: Microbial Biology
Mentor: Steve Lindow
Sponsor: Rose Hills Independent
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