Dr. Christopher Cullis, Department of Biology professor and chair, is working with students Cory Johnson, Tiffanie Moss, Cong Liu, Christina Cajigas, and Andrea Fischione at the Debra Ann November Research Greenhouse and growing flax plants. The group is studying the mechanisms by which DNA within the cell can change rapidly, particularly in response to external stimuli.
The plant-based model systems that are the basis for these investigations are the heritable mutations in flax in response to the external environment and the appearance of somaclonal mutations after plants have been taken through a cycle of tissue culture and regeneration. Flax has been shown to be especially prone to genomic destabilization by the external growing environment. Cullis and his students are interested in developing a flax genome project to elucidate these global genomic changes.