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3rd Place, 2011

Natural Sunscreen

Danielle Nunnelly, Molecular Biology

Our lab investigates how plants respond to different environmental stresses. Such knowledge could yield great agricultural rewards, especially with regard to global climate changes affecting our environment and the current world hunger crisis. In response to increasing levels of ultraviolet radiation, we found that a G-protein-coupled signaling pathway is activated, which allows plants to produce their own "natural sunscreen" compounds. Pictured is the tip of a baby Arabidopsis leaf (cotyledon) after UV irradiation. Deconvolution microscopy was used to capture this image. The naturally fluorescent compounds at the tip of the leaf were produced in response to the ultraviolent radiation exposure.