Lorita Agu was awarded funding through a South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) grant to conduct research with her biochemistry professor and mentor, Dr. Jeff Brotherton. Lorita says their project, ASA3 Encoded Protein in Arabidopsis Stamen, was important to her “because nobody knew the answer to my question, ‘is ASA3 a real plant gene?’ Through the project, I was able to contribute to our understanding of the plant genome.”
Through examination of plant stamen to determine whether the protein was present, the two were able to hypothesize about possible functions of the ASA3 gene in the Arabidopsis plant. To date, no known purpose has been discovered. Gaining this knowledge can contribute to the understanding of how ASA3 protein might impact synthesis of an important plant hormone.
Dr. Brotherton noted, “This project gave Lorita and other Converse students an opportunity to use several modern biochemical methods to answer an important question concerning a plant’s ability to respond to changes in its environment. Understanding the mechanisms underlying plant health can help us sustainably grow productive crops in an ever changing world.”
Pictured at left, Lorita and Dr. Brotherton work using Converse’s new high performance liquid chromatograph. This instrument is capable of detecting and precisely measuring very small quantities of important chemical compounds found in very small tissue samples. Access to research-quality instruments like this, combined with individualized mentoring opportunities give Converse students a competitive edge in grad schools and science-related professions.