The BrachyBio! project is a past collaboration between the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), Cornell University, and high school and middle school students from across New York State and beyond. The purpose of this large-scale experiment is to understand gene function in plants, particularly crop plants. Students learn to grow, observe, and identify mutant Brachypodium plants. Scientists then use DNA sequencing technologies to determine the genes altered by mutations.
Scientists at BTI produce thousands of mutant Brachypodium seeds, and students grow and observe these plants over time. When students share their findings with scientists, the researchers hope to identify and catalog the genes in the Brachypodium plant. Students will play a key role by growing up and identifying the mutant Brachypodium plants, then submitting their data online.
This important research project could one day lead to better quality foods, improved crop yields, and the development of sustainable energy for the future. In addition, students are involved in a real scientific study and develop hands-on experience with the scientific method and the work of plant scientists.
Internships are funded by the National Science Foundation, Research Experiences for Undergraduates Award #1358843, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture Award #2011-67009-30055, individual faculty grants, and the generosity of local donors including the Ithaca Garden Club.