Understanding Plant Cell Death With “bak to life” Screens
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As sessile organisms, plants often need to activate a sophisticated immune system to evade pathogen infections. However, uncontrolled activation of defense pathways can have extremely damaging effects to the host. Many elements that control these events are still unknown. Defense receptors like Brassinosteroid Insensitive 1-Associated Receptor Kinase 1(BAK1) and Somatic Embryogenesis Receptor Kinase 4 (SERK4) are a vital part of plant defense, growth and development. However, when they become suppressed, it can lead to defense over-activation and cell death. My research focuses on finding suppressors of cell death caused by silencing BAK1 and SERK4 with virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) on Arabidopsis knockout collections. My research will provide insight into the understanding of BAK/SERK4-mediated cell death and how plants activate defense without causing massive cell death. Likewise, this research may impact the future of crop production by genetically modifying the plants for maximizing defense without detrimental defect. I showed that “bak to life” (btl) mutants have reduced cell death phenotype compared to wild type plants, when BAK1/SERK4 are silenced.
Criswell, Cameron A (2019). Understanding Plant Cell Death With “bak to life” Screens. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from