Anneliese TrujiiloMajor: Chemical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Champa Sengupta Gopalan, ProfessorDepartment of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University
I am currently a junior at New Mexico State University (NMSU) majoring in Chemical Engineering and Pre-medicine. I anticipate graduating from NMSU in May of 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, and complete medical school perquisites with a 4.0 GPA. My future long-term goals are to gain acceptance into medical school, preferably at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. I am in the New Mexico AMP Undergraduate Research Scholars program, and this program made it possible for me to conduct research as an undergraduate student. I started this program in the Summer of 2015. Receiving this research scholarship enabled me to not have to work part-time outside of school, and I am able to stay on campus and attain valuable research skills. I won first place at the 2015 and 2016 New Mexico AMP Student Research Conference. Academically, I have gained knowledge on the various techniques used while conducting research and an in-depth understanding on subjects that include and are not limited to: biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, statistics, and biochemistry through hands on learning. Medical schools like for applicants to have research experience and would like to see around 40 hours of experience. However, I will have over 1,200 hours of research experience. I thoroughly enjoy my research and am incredibly thankful to have such a wonderful mentor, who was originally my genetics professor, and introduced me to the art of genetic engineering.
Developing Resistance Against Phytophthora capsici in Chile Pepper (Capsicum annuum) using Genetic Engineering Techniques
Chile pepper is an important cash crop in New Mexico, and is rich in plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Chile peppers are susceptible to different phytopathogenic fungi, bacteria and viruses. Phytophthora capsici is known currently to be the cause of the most catastrophic disease in chile, and the most significant threat to chile production. There are some chile cultivars that are resistant to P. capsici, such as CM 334. However, the resistance trait has not been successfully transferred to other susceptible cultivars which have other desirable characteristics by traditional breeding. The resistant cultivars have a resistance (R) gene that is induced following interaction with the pathogen. This interaction leads to induction of defense genes encoding for enzymes making antimicrobial metabolites collectively known as phytoalexins. A gene encoding an enzyme that plays a key role in the synthesis of the phytoalexins has been isolated and engineered for expression in chile. The engineered gene has been introduced into Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The engineered A. tumefaciens has been used in a transient assay to check for the functionality of the transgene to confer resistance to P. capsici in a susceptible chile cultivar. We have also transformed susceptible chile with the engineered A. tumefaciens using a modified, stable A. tumefaciens mediated transformation system developed in our Laboratory. We have obtained several independent chile plants in tissue culture. We will present the data obtained from the transient assay and chile transformation.