Project Number: 6034-22320-007-016-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Oct 1, 2020
End Date: Jul 31, 2023
Funds provided to cooperator are to support the following objectives fulfilling the educational outreach component of the grant: IRSC will provide students at Indian River State College (IRSC) training and research experience in synthetic biology, microbiology, molecular biology and to explore how these disciplines are used in agriculture.
At Indian River State College (IRSC), two laboratory modules will be developed for a biotechnology lab that will introduce students to plant transformations using the Agrobacterium model system and Ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi). The labs module will be developed by jointly IRSC faculty and researchers at the USDA. The Agrobacterium module will use transgenic expression of a fluorescent protein in transformed PHACT-biofactories to introduce students to this transgenic system. The module is adaptable to allow for additional instruction of the expression system by Poly chain reaction (PCR), quantitative Poly chain reaction (qPCR), protein analysis and microscopy. The RNAi module will use bioinformatics to introduce students to dsRNA design and the students can test their double-stranded Ribonucleic acid (dsRNAs) for activity as part of the assay pipeline described in Obj. 2. The biotechnology course is offered each fall and spring semester, with sections of 16 students. Curriculum development will be completed during year one and implementation will occur years two through five. Additional outreach will occur through a research opportunity for students at IRSC and Cornell. Teams of students will work with faculty, scientists and post-docs to prepare a research proposal that uses the Agrobacterium model to design a “biofactory” resulting in expression of desired molecules or other designs that are complementary to the mentor’s concurrent research. The teams will conduct summer research that tests their hypotheses and designs. The teams from each institution, and their scientific mentors, will interact through web lab meetings to share their results and optimize their methodologies. Students that complete the research experience will serve as peer mentors for additional cohorts to help facilitate the learning experience.