Tenth Annual Grant Winners 2009-2010
Don Rosenblum, Ph.D.
Aurelien Tartar, Ph.D.
Title: Immersing NSU undergraduate students in an in-house genome sequencing project
The entomopathogenic oomycete Lagenidium giganteum is known to infect and kill mosquito larvae and therefore has been seen as a potential biological control agent against disease vector mosquitoes. However, little is know about the pathological process of L. giganteum in its mosquito host. We propose to initiate a genome project targeted at deciphering the full genome sequence of Lagenidium giganteum. Our long-term objectives are twofold. First, the novel DNA sequence information generated at NSU will serve to obtain a better understanding of the biology of Lagenidium giganteum and, through the identification of genes involved in pathogenesis, may accelerate the development of Lagenidium-based bioinsecticides against mosquitoes. Second, the genome-sequencing project will be used as a training vehicle to expose NSU undergraduate students to modern biological research technologies associated with genome sequencing and analysis. Although genomics is revolutionizing biological studies, current students at NSU have little opportunity to experience this revolution. We aim at providing students with the possibility of obtaining comprehensive hands-on experience, genomics and bioinformatics training while working on an original, contemporary and meaningful in-house genome project. Our research proposal is articulated around a collaborative effort between Nova Southeastern University and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), which hosts a state-of-the-art sequencing facility. Our approach focuses on the generation of Expressed Sequence Tags using 454 pyrosequencing technologies. Selected NSU undergraduate students will perform the totality of wet lab experiments necessary for EST sequencing. Although sequencing itself will be performed at VBI, the data analysis and interpretation will be the responsibility of NSU undergraduate students, through class assignments or research projects. Overall, the EST database will be used to detail the molecular basis of Lagenidium giganteum towards mosquitoes, and initiate comparative genomics analyses between L. giganteum and the much better characterized plant pathogenic oomycetes (such as Phytophthora spp.).