Cindy Sigler

Mentor: Dr. Thomas Calquhoun
College of Environmental Horticulture
 
"My natural curiosity and passion for the improvement of plants began when I started volunteering at the University of Florida's Citrus Research and Education Center when I was in high school. I never knew I could enjoy something so immensely as hybridizing different citrus cultivars to create a seedless, easy to peel, disease tolerant orange that everyone would enjoy. I plan to continue my research in fruit and floral improvement to create novel cultivars that thrive in our changing climate."

Major

Plant Science- Plant Genetics

Minor

Entomology and Nematology

Research Interests

  • Biochemical Regulation of Flavor and Aroma in Fruits and Flowers
  • Plant Breeding
  • Insect Pollinators

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program 2015-2016

Organizations

  • Entomology Club
  • Tau Sigma Honor Society

Volunteer

  • Lake Gem Restoration Project
  • Entomology Conepark Library Outreach Event
  • Bug Fest 2015

Hobbies and Interests

  • Insect Collection and Curation
  • Going to Museums and Aquariums
  • Collecting Random Minerals and Rocks
  • Dancing

Research Description

Making better plant products by understanding petunia metabolism
I am characterizing two protein families required for phenylpropanoid production in plants. Phenylpropanoids compounds and their conjugates are vital in interacting with surrounding biotic and abiotic factors. Phenylpropanoids are precursors to many important secondary molecules which are involved in pathogen resistance, pigmentation, and attraction to pollinators. The PAL and C4H enzyme families will be expressed in bacterial cultures, isolated, purified, and enzymatically characterized. I hypothesize that if PAL enzyme is fed phenylalanine, cinnamic acid will be produced. The C4H enzyme will then use that as a substrate to form a p-coumeric acid product. The data will be able to predict enzyme behavior for understanding the initial steps of the phenylpropanoid pathway. This would allow breeders to make improvements of plants for desired phenotypic traits.