Horticulture dept. shares gene chip technology with Alabama schools

A group of 28 Alabama public school teachers recently completed a biotechnology workshop at Tuskegee University organized and presented by UW-Madison horticulture professors Patrick Krysan and Jim Nienhuis, and UW-Madison graduate students Gabriella Ronquillo and Amber Robertson. At the workshop, teachers learned to use a cutting-edge scientific tool called a microarray chip – or gene chip – to identify plant genes associated with photosynthesis.

The teachers used Arabidopsis plants grown in the light and the dark in conjunction with a simplified microarray chip developed by Betsy Barnard, a recent graduate of the horticulture department (M.S. 2005), to find the critical genes. Many of the 28 Alabama teachers who participated in the workshop will use the UW-made gene chip in their K-12 classrooms in Alabama next year to introduce students to genomics technology. The low-cost gene chip was specifically designed to engage students in the hands-on process of gene identification using genomics.