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Botany students' research honored

12/06/2004

Two Miami botany students were recognized for their work at the recent annual meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology,

in New York.

Melissa Schwind, a junior from Chardon, was awarded second place in the undergraduate student competition for her presentation, “The role of phytochromes in the gravitropic and phototropic responses of inflorescence stems of Arabidopsis thaliana.”

Neela Kumar, a graduate student, was awarded honorable mention in the graduate student competition for her presentation, “The rate of plastid sedimentation in hypocotyls of the arg1 (altered response to gravity) mutant of Arabidopsis.”

The student awards included certificates and cash prizes.

Schwind and Kumar work with John Kiss, professor of botany, whose research on gravitropism (response of plants to gravity) has included experiments with Arabidopsis on U.S. space shuttle missions in 1997.

Next summer Kiss will have an experiment performed on the International Space Station, carried by the second planned return of U.S. space shuttles in July 2005.

The goal of the current research is to better understand how plants integrate sensory input from multiple light and gravity perception systems.

The long-range goals are related to developing better crop plants on earth and to determining plants’ potential use as a food source during prolonged human time in space.

Arabidopsis, a small plant in the mustard family, is currently the focus of an international genome sequencing project analogous to the human genome project.

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