Drake Rose

Student NameDrake Rose
Faculty Mentor NameAnna Block, PhD
CollegeCollege of Agricultural and Life Sciences/United States Department of Agriculture
MajorMicrobiology & Cell Science
Research Interestsmolecular biology, gene editing, biochemistry, virology, microbiology
Academic AwardsUniversity Scholars Program 2020
OrganizationsCenter for Undergraduate Research Board of Students (CURBS), Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED)
Hobbies and Interestsconcerts, music, painting, travel

Research Project

Using CRISPR-Cas9 to Generate Loss-of-Function Mutants in Two Maize (Zea mays) Genes Potentially Involved in the Production of Antifungal Compounds?

Zea mays (maize) produces a class of sesquiterpenoid defense compounds called zealexins in response to fungal infection. These compounds exhibit antimicrobial activity, with their accumulation at the site of infection likely inhibiting fungal growth and different members of this family have activity against different fungal pathogens.

The goal of this project is to produce CRISPR-Cas9 loss-of-function mutants in two genes that may be good candidates for several of the missing steps in zealexin biosynthesis (NMD1 and NMD2), and to profile the production of zealexins in the mutants to determine if indeed NMD1 and NMD2 function in zealexin biosynthesis. Knowledge of the genes involved in the production of these compounds will be useful for molecular breeding programs focused on enhancing disease resistance in maize.