Faculty conversations: Brad Day
With the touch of an electronic pen to a computer monitor, plant pathology assistant professor Brad Day operates his newest piece of equipment — a laser capture microdissection instrument — to reveal the cellular structures of plant life.
Day’s lab recently acquired the instrument, thanks to a $211,000 grant from the National Science Foundation – a slice of the government’s $800 billion stimulus funding package.
The LCM instrument is the most advanced method for analyzing single cells in a multi-cellular organism and will help Day and fellow researchers examine how a plant’s cells communicate when attacked by a pathogen. When one cell falls victim to a pathogen, it warns adjacent cells throughout the plant of the danger.
“You want to know how a pathogen or any organism is affecting the plant either through its development, its physiology, its reproduction, etc,” Day said.
Not only will the instrument benefit Day’s lab and studies, but it also will help coordinate research throughout the department. Findings could be shared with the research and technology support facility to understand what’s happening at the genetic level and how it correlates with Day’s discoveries.
“Part of the impetus for us getting the microscope was really a need to link cell biology and the new push that we have on campus for genome-based technologies,” Day said.