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Jaimie Kenney

McNair Scholar Jaimie

Jaimie Kenney is a post-baccalaureate student at Eastern Washington University, pursuing a B.S. in Biology. The McNair program is helping her realize her dream of obtaining a Ph.D. in plant pathology. Her main research interest is in how microorganisms impact the health of plants, for better or for worse. She aims to apply knowledge of plant-microbe interactions in agriculture or restoration of natural lands in order to mitigate the negative effects of global climate change on human civilization and natural ecosystems. She is also passionate about bridging the gap between the scientific community and the general public, believing that everyone can play an important role in the scientific process and that we must all collaborate in order to navigate the many social and environmental challenges currently facing society. Jaimie holds a B.A. from Eastern Washington University in Spanish and spends her free time practicing other languages and riding bikes.

McNair Faculty Research Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Brown - Environmental Science

McNair Research Title: Role of a Single Amino Acid of Grapevine Fanleaf Virus Indetermines Symptom Expression 

McNair Research Abstract: Grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV) has a bipartite RNA genome and causes fanleaf degeneration, the oldest known viral disease of grape. The disease is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including malformed leaves and clearing of veins, the molecular mechanisms behind which are not well understood. Our goal was to create GFLV mutants of GFLV and determine how the mutations change the virus' ability to cause vein-clearing symptoms in a model host plant, Nicotiana benthamiana. Previous work identified a the segment of the RNA1-encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (1EPol), as the a key symptom determinant. By characterizing chimeras of comparing two GFLV  strains of GFLV, wild type GHu, which causes typical vein-clearing symptoms in N. benthamiana, and wild type F13, which does not cause symptoms, this  1EPol region was further narrowed to a couple of amino acids, including the residue in in positions  position 802 and 804 of 1EPol. We used Q-5 site-directed mutagenesis to create GHu mutants of GHu where lysine 802K802 (lysine) was replaced by asparagine, glutamic acid, glutamine, or proline, and used these mutants to agroinoculate N. benthamiana seedlings. Plants were observed for symptoms for 3 weeks post- inoculation and tested for local and systemic GFLV infection. Replacing lysine 802K802 with other amino acids altered symptoms and rates of systemic infection. This suggested that lysine 802K802 of 1EPol not only plays a key role in triggering vein-clearing symptoms of GFLV, but may also be involved in other processes that enable the virus to spread within the host.

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