Area of Doctoral Study: Biological Sciences
Undergraduate Institute: Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Research Advisor: Stephen Miller, Ph.D.
Volvox carteri is an ideal system to study cellular differentiation mechanisms since it exhibits the simplest form of complete division of labor. V. carteri is a multi-cellular green alga composed of two distinct cell types: ~16 large reproductive cells called gonidia and ~ 2000 small motile somatic cells. Interesting developmental mutants are can be readily obtained since V. carteri is genetically haploid. Furthermore, acquisition of interesting mutants is not difficult since the asexual reproductive cycle lasts only two days and generates large numbers of individuals. The cells of a V. carteri individual are arranged spherically, with the somatic cells distributed at the surface of the spheroid, and the gonidia positioned slightly below. Mature V.carteri individuals undergo a stereotypic series of asymmetric divisions in the anterior of the embryo that generates larger and smaller gonidial and somatic initials respectively. The goal of my thesis project is to develop advances in the molecular genetic analyses of V. carteri via characterization of new class II transposons, creating an artificial microRNA (amiRNA) tool to knockdown expression of interesting genes and establishing stable nuclear transformation using the vitamin B12 gene as a selectable maker.