Allison Rothrock

Characterizing Genes Underlying Serpentine Adaptation in Monkey Flowers

High metal content, low levels of essential nutrients, and poor water retention make serpentine soil a uniquely challenging environment and a source of strong selective pressure. The yellow monkey flower, or Mimulus guttatus, an annual wildflower native to the western United States, has adapted to these harsh conditions; coupled with its wide range, this ability to survive on serpentine soil makes Mimulus guttatus a model organism for studying how plants adapt to local environments. This study will focus on three genes — involved in root architecture and the uptake and transport of essential nutrients — that show key variations between on- and off-serpentine populations. The CRISPR-Cas9 system will be used to generate plants with nonfunctional variants of these genes, which will provide important insights into the role these genes play in Mimulus guttatus’s ability to survive in serpentine conditions.

Message to Sponsor

This is an extraordinary opportunity, and I couldn’t be more excited to be conducting my own research and doing hands-on work with gene-editing technology this summer. Your support means that I’ll be able to both grow as a researcher and contribute meaningful findings about serpentine adaptation to the field, and I can’t thank you enough for that.
  • Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
  • Mentor: Benjamin Blackman, Allison Gaudinier