Past Lab Members

2007

From left to right: Megan Best, Kabir Bhanot, Dr.Arunika Gunawardena, Chris LeFort, Anna Elliott

Mom's Lab

By Anisha Rajaselvam

Megan Best

Having completed an honours project in deep sea benthic ecology, Megan returned to her original passion for botany in joining the Gunawardena lab on a Sarah Lawson summer research scholarship in 2007. After helping to establish viable axenic lace plant cultures - a necessary procedure to eliminate the unknown role of microbes in experimentation - much of Megan's work to date has concentrated on the role of calcium in the developmental programmed cell death (PCD) process. Using various inhibitors to calcium movement throughout the cell, questions pertaining to the sequestration, distribution, and overall position of calcium as a messenger in the molecular pathway of lace plant PCD can begin to be answered.

In addition to her calcium work, Megan had initiated another set of experiments to attempt fluorescent protein transformation of lace plant cells using Agrobacterium, with the ultimate intent of targeting the nucleus and tonoplast to study the activities of these organelles during PCD.

Kabir Bhanot

Stimulation of PCD in the Control Cells of Aponogeton madagascariensis

Programmed cell death (PCD) is the regulated death of a cell in a multicellular organism. PCD is genetically encoded and it usually confers an advantage in development and growth. Two broad categories of PCD exist: developmentally regulated and environmentally induced. Aponogeton madagascariensis, commonly known as the Lace Plant, is a good model to study developmentally regulated PCD in plants. Each leaf contains transverse and longitudinal veins which isolate many repeating units. PCD occurs in the center of these units but stops four to five cell layers from the perimeter formed by the veins. This creates perforations across the surface of the entire leaf (see Lace Plant). The control cells are located between the veins and the cells that undergo PCD. I will attempt to isolate cells from the control areas employing previously formulated cell isolation protocols and induce PCD in them. The environmental induction of PCD in cells that do not normally undergo PCD will be studied and compared to analogous process in cells which experience developmental PCD.
I completed the first year of my biology BSc at Saint Mary's University and the second at Dalhousie. Kabir received an NSERC undergraduate student research award for the summer of 2007.

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