Wayne Curtis

Laser Analytical Methods to Assist African Food Security

Somatic embryos have the ability to sprout plantlets from somatic cells such as a leaf. This process can be induced by treating plant tissues with embryogenetic proteins or manipulating transcription factors that alter the development path of plant cells back to the physiological state of an embryo. A project funded by the Gates foundation, is trying to combine propagation bioreactors with these biomolecular embryogenesis methods. However, many embryos diverge to become 'glassy' instead of opaque, where the hypothesis is that there are alterations in the biosynthesis of cellulose fibers – which results in unhealthy plant embryos that do not tend develop to full plants. In this project, we would like to utilize a newly developed microscopic method of probing cellulose structure based on "sum frequency generation" SFG in which two lasers with different wavelengths, converge on a sample and interact the structure to give information on cellulose crystallinity. The specific work will involve learning tissue culture methods for embryo proliferation and then probing the cellulose structure for glassy versus opaque embryos using SFG analysis.

Faculty Research Links

Contact Information

Manish Kumar, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
REU Program Coordinator

Esther Gomez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
REU Program Coordinator

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