David Wing, Ph.d
United States of America
Genetics and molecular biology continue to fascinate me and I hope to heighten student interest and curiosity in those fields. The completion of the human genome project represents both a major milestone and stepping stone leading to a detailed understanding of the complexity of the human body. Not featured in everyday headlines are genome projects of microbes, plants, worms, fish, and other mammals. These projects will give biologists, in all fields, the ability to probe into the molecular basis of the unique features of the living world around us. Course work in genetics and molecular biology will help prepare tomorrow’s biologists for an exciting period of genome exploration.
Scientists from the USA, Europe, and Japan have sequenced the entire genome of Arabidopsis thaliana, mouse-ear cress. While the tiny weed has little economic value, key information about its genes will unlock much of the DNA encoded information found in corn, wheat, rice, and all other major crops. Thus, the next step for plant scientists is to understand each of the genes found in A. thaliana DNA. Towards this goal, students working in my laboratory at Shepherd College are characterizing two A. thaliana mutants; one that is hypersensitive to copper and another that has yellow tipped first leaves.