Emily Berry

Emily Berry

University of New Hampshire



Mentor: Dr. Kevin Culligan, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences

Analyzing the Effects of Vibrio parahaemolyticus Virulence Factors in Arabidopsis thaliana

The pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus can cause illness via ingestion or through open wounds of the host.  With cases of human illness from this pathogen expected to increase due to climate change, more research about the virulence of Vibrio parahaemolyticus is needed so that these illnesses can be prevented or stopped altogether.  Genetic damage from virulence of Vibrio parahaemolyticus has yet to be researched.  This pathogen has not been studied in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana, which is commonly used to observe virulence of pathogens as well as DNA damage resulting from these infections.  There are also several genes in Arabidopsis thaliana that appear in human genomes, such as the gene brca2, which is associated with breast cancer in humans and makes it a good model for some human genes. If Arabidopsis thaliana is susceptible to the virulence factors of this pathogen, it will be noticeable by expressing symptoms seen in other organisms like humans.  This proposal aims to observe the persistence of different strains of this pathogen and its virulence in several Arabidopsis thaliana mutants as well as the wild type.  Using vacuum infiltration, various Arabidopsis thaliana mutants and the wild type will be infected with Vibrio parahaemolyticus and the control, Pseudomonas syringae.  This method will be used to test for virulence and persistence of the Vibrio parahaemolyticus strains in Arabidopsis thaliana over the course of several days.  The results of this experiment will help to determine the effect of virulence and DNA damage resulting from Vibrio parahaemolyticus.


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