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2020 Projects

The effect of excess UV light on Arabidopsis thaliana’s germination frequency

Eileen Miller ’23
Major: Organismal Biology & Ecology

Eileen Miller ’23

Major: Organismal Biology & Ecology

Faculty Collaborator: Shane Heschel, Organismal Biology & Ecology

Due to the depletion of the ozone layer more UV light is reaching earth, and this increase in UV light has proven harmful to plants which in turn might affect their germination rate. Using Arabidopsis thaliana, we examined whether seeds can tolerate excess UV in terms of germination success. We also examined whether certain phytochrome genes might play a role in this UV tolerance. Phytochrome genes are known photosensor genes and have roles in sensing the light conditions necessary for germination. For this experiment, seeds from wild-type (non-mutated background) as well as phytochrome mutant lines were grown on agar plates in a growth chamber and were exposed to either 60 minutes, 30 minutes, or no extra UV light. Germination data indicate that seeds from this weedy species can adapt to slightly more UV; however, Arabidopsis thaliana with a phyE (phytochrome E gene) or phyA (phytocrhome A gene) mutation suffered slightly when exposed to excess UV. This indicates that Arabidopsis thaliana is equipped to handle excess UV light however certain mutants of the plant will be negatively affected. In particular, phytochrome A and E genes might have a role in UV sensitivity.

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