A few questions the unPAK project wishes to address...
- How can organisms that are so seemingly similar live in such vastly different habitats on Earth?
- What is the genetic basis of these ecological differences?
- Why do some species have so many genes?
The function of some 27,000 genes of the small plant Arabidopsis thaliana remains a largely open question. When genes are knocked out, many of them expose little or no phenotype. Why??? One possible hypothesis is that the “lack of phenotype” occurs when genes are members of large families. Another is that these phenotypes are only expressed in certain environments.
The unPAK (Undergraduate Phenotyping of Arabidopsis Knockouts) project joins the curiosity and enthusiasm of undergraduate students for gaining hands on research experience with a novel experimental design approach for assaying phenotypes for this ecological genomic model system, and ultimately bring these data to the Arabidopsis community. Our approach is a partnership among researchers at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUI) to train future researchers while simultaneously building a body of knowledge.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1052262.