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Graduate Student Research Symposium: March 21, 2011
Showcasing Outstanding Graduate Research
2011 Symposium Presenters and Abstracts:
Department of Horticultural Science

Yang Bian
Coauthors: Archana Natarajan Raja
¹,² & Allan Brown¹
Graduate Programs: Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Kannapolis, NC¹; David H. Murdock Research Institute, Kannapolis, NC²
Advisor: Allan Brown
Poster Number: 11
Title: Identification and utilization of novel genomic SSR markers in blueberry

The health benefits and economic value of blueberry (Vaccinium spp. section Cyanococcus) are widely recognized. Genetic improvement of complex traits in blueberry, however, has been hindered by the limited understanding of the genetic resources and genomic structure.
With the considerable amount of data currently available in the next-generation genomic sequencing of 2 a diploid V. corymbosum (“W8520”), we
have been developing novel genomic microsatellite markers to use in genetic studies and breeding. A subset of 10% largest contigs (4817) was chosen from the assembled unique contigs. 3098 to 4155 contigs were found to contain microsatellites using various SSR-detecting software (MISA, Sputnik, SciRoKo, and TRF).
While there were 1603 (25.7%) compound repeats identified using MISA, we found 4645 (74.3%) perfect repeats, which distributed as 3724(59.6%) di-, 734(11.7%) tri-, 114(1.8%) tetra-, 54(0.9%) penta-, and 19(0.3%) hexa-nucleotides. 
Forty genomic genomic SSRs present in 40 separate contigs were designed primers. These novel genomic SSR markers will be used to assess genetic diversity and population structure in the USDA Blueberry Core Collection of diverse cultivars and selections. The abundance, distribution and diversity of SSRs in blueberry will also be discussed. These markers and genetic studies will provide information that will ultimately contribute to the dissection of complex traits in blueberry and the development of new improved varieties.

Christine M. Bradish

Graduate Program: Horticultural Science
Advisors: Penelope Perkins-Veazie & Gina Fernandez
Poster Number: 17
Title: Metabolomic Variation in North Carolina Red Raspberry

Raspberries and other berry crops have received increased consumer and research attention due to their wide range of human health benefits. Berry polyphenols have powerful antioxidant capacity, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and regular consumption of these compounds may help prevent and manage chronic diseases. Additionally, raspberries are a high value crop with growth potential in North Carolina and an increasing consumer market in the Eastern United States.

Metabolomic methods that allow for compositional analysis of fruit samples have applications for human health and breeding programs. These methods can help determine genetic versus environmental effects on polyphenol content, allowing for development
of nutritionally enhanced varieties. This study examines metabolomic variation among three fall-fruiting red raspberry cultivars (Autumn Britten, Caroline, and Nantahala) grown in three climactic regions of North Carolina. A metabolite profile quantifying major flavonoid compounds in 27 freeze-dried fruit samples from the 2010 growing season was assembled using liquid-chromatography-time-of-flight-mass-spectrometry (LC-TOF-MS) technology. Additionally, assays analyzing total anthocyanins, total phenolics, and Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power (FRAP) of raspberry samples were used to determine correlations between antioxidant capacity and levels of specific and total polyphenolic compounds.
Multivariate statistical analysis tools were used to determine significant differences among metabolite levels due to genetic and environmental differences, and to group samples based on qualitative and quantitative variation of specific metabolites.
Results indicate highest levels of specific polyphenolic compounds in Caroline and Autumn Britten, and increased levels of these compounds in climates at higher temperature and lower elevation. These methods and results can be utilized in breeding programs to identify key metabolites contributing to antioxidant properties and health benefits for humans, and further tailoring for functional foods.

Brantley Snipes 
Graduate Programs: Landscape Architecture & Horticultural Science
Advisors: Kofi Boone and Anne Spafford
Poster Number: 152
Title: Retrofitting Suburbia with Health in Mind

news story on this project

Retrofitting, or the modification of existing places to meet contemporary needs, is a critical practice in landscape design. However, the trend is just now becoming relevant in America’s suburbs. From 1945-1970, the United States committed to decentralizing communities through low interest loans for low density development and extensive investment in infrastructure. Now, sixty years later with the majority of the American population residing in the suburbs, these areas are faced with a wide range of crises, from auto-dependence to infrastructure decay to ecological degradation. The
Center for Disease Control recognizes the health of suburban populations to be a growing epidemic in our society & a direct result of the low density,
auto-depende nt infrastructure. Yet demographic trends suggest that suburban areas will increasingly become the homes of more diverse populations with need for increased mobility, access to services, walkability, and housing choices. The objectives of this project were to consider the growth trends, evaluate existing conditions, and create a suburban retrofit designed to promote both human and environmental health along the Blue Ridge Corridor in Raleigh. The process started through the creation of a health metric to determine the spaces within suburban areas that exacerbate the problems of health and to create design solutions to amend these issues. It was determined that by designing for ecological health first, developmental needs of the suburban population, such as higher density, walkability and mixed use, could ensue. The result was an area of rich environmental quality, unique character, and a promoter of the health and well being of a suburban population.

Grad student designs landscapes with both human and environmental health in mind (CALS News)   more