Dr. Hagop S. Atamian
Microbial organisms have caused detrimental effects to agricultural plants by significantly decreasing their plant growth yield and it’s nutritional qualities, leading to high levels of economic losses in society. Salvia Hispanica L., commonly known as chia, is becoming a rising agricultural crop because of its favorable nutritional qualities. Chia seeds have a high concentration of α-linolenic acid, commonly known as omega-3 fatty acids) which provide several different health benefits, in addition to being a rich source of protein and fiber. Chia field trial conducted by the Atamian lab during summer 2018, experienced high levels of disease incidence characterized by root rot, plant wilting, and eventual death of three-month-old chia plants. The fungus was isolated and identified as Macrophomina phaseolina based on its morphological analysis on potato dextrose agar plates. Macrophomina phaseolina is a widespread fungus that causes a high mortality rate in nursery plats as well as in agricultural crops such as soybean, maize, sorghum, and cotton. The fungus damages the root system of the plant host, resulting in the inability of the root to obtain the required nutrients and water for proper growth of the plant. The objective of this project was to use molecular techniques to confirm the accuracy of the morphological analysis and further characterize the fungus at the molecular level. The DNA of Macrophomina phaseolina was cloned through the process of A tailing, ligation, and transformation into E. coli cells, and then plasmids from the surviving cultured E coli. cells were sent to the lab for sequencing of the genes MPK-1, ITS 1 and 2, and SSU rRNA. Using the other strains of Macrophomina phaseolina in the NCBI database, the resulting gene sequences were compared to deduce that the fungus present was Macrophomina phaseolina, and if there was a presence of genetic variability between the strains infecting chia plants to previous cases in other plants.
Sakurai, Cailyn; Atamian, Hagop S.; and Besnard, Julien, "Characterization of Macrophomina phaseolina Infecting Chia Plants" (2019). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 344.