Epiphytic bromeliads create ?tanks? of water through the overlay of their leaves at the base of the plant. These tanks serve as the primary source of water and nutrient absorption, as the plant does not produce a root system. Water enters the plant through aquaporin proteins, a transmembrane gated protein channel found throughout the plant. The gate opens and closes in response to a number of factors, particularly pH for the purposes of this research. Following isolation of the aquaporin gene in Tiffany (a Vresia hybrid), I began experimental manipulations to evaluate the gene expression in response to changing tank pH. I used the species Werauhia ringens , a relative of the Vresia genus, in the manipulations at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. I covered the tanks to shield them from rain to manipulate the tank water volume. I also monitored uncovered plants. I measured the tank volume and pH of each plant every other day, taking samples of both tank and leaf tissue at a range of pH values from 2.6-5.21. Following these manipulations, I added tap water to several plants as a control for higher pH gene expression. I will continue this project by processing these samples upon returning to Occidental using PCR to isolate and quantify the expression of the aquaporin gene.
Phillips, Carly, " AquaporinGeneExpressionin W.Ringens " (2011). URC Student Scholarship.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Grant