Magdy S. Alabady, PhD, MSc

Faculty, Scientist, and Writer

Curriculum vitae

Department of Plant Biology

University of Georgia Athens

Address 1:
Department of Plant Biology
2502 Miller Plant Sciences
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
Office: Room# 4504
Lab: Room# 4505

The Carnivorous Genomes (current)

A) Sequencing, Assembly, and Annotation of Sarracenia Genomes

Sequencing the genomes of pitcher plants holds significant importance and potential impact in several areas of research, including.
A) Evolutionary Insights: Pitcher plants have evolved complex and diverse adaptations to carnivory, making them ideal subjects for studying evolutionary processes. By sequencing their genomes, we hope to trace the genetic changes and identify the key genes responsible for the development of pitcher-like structures, digestion enzymes, and other unique traits. This knowledge can shed light on the evolutionary history of these plants and their relationships with other plant species.
B) Host-Microbiome: Pitcher plants exhibit a fascinating ecosystem wherein they form unique interactions with a diverse array of microorganisms. The pitcher-shaped leaves of Sarracenia serve as specialized microhabitats that support a complex microbiome, consisting of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. This research focus aims to unravel the intricate microbiome interactions within the Sarracenia system, with a specific emphasis on the mutualistic relationships between Sarracenia and its microbial inhabitants. By studying this symbiotic partnership, we seek to gain insights into the functional roles of the microbiome in nutrient acquisition, disease resistance, and overall plant health.
C) Conservation and Biodiversity: Many pitcher plant species are endangered or at risk due to habitat loss and degradation. Understanding their genomes can aid in conservation efforts by providing valuable information about their genetic diversity, population structure, and adaptability to different environments. This knowledge can guide conservation strategies and help protect these unique and threatened plants.
D) Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology: The genetic information obtained from sequencing pitcher plant genomes can inspire and inform synthetic biology applications. Researchers can study and potentially replicate the genetic elements responsible for carnivorous adaptations, which could have applications in engineering plants with enhanced pest control mechanisms or the production of valuable enzymes.
D) Medicinal Potential: Pitcher plants have a long history of use in traditional medicine, with some compounds from their secretions showing potential therapeutic properties. Sequencing their genomes can aid in the identification and characterization of genes involved in the biosynthesis of these compounds. This knowledge could potentially lead to the discovery of novel bioactive molecules that can be further explored for pharmaceutical purposes.

In summary, sequencing the genomes of pitcher plants has the potential to deepen our understanding of their unique adaptations, aid in conservation efforts, inspire synthetic biology applications, and uncover new medicinal compounds. It represents a valuable avenue of research with wide-ranging implications for ecology, evolutionary biology, and biotechnology.

B) The Carnivorous Linkage Map

We have developed a Sarracenia genetic linkage map of 437 SNP and SSR markers with a total length of 2017 cM, based upon an F2 generation of 280 plants from a genetic cross between Spu and Sps. We estimate that the map covers 80% of the total genetic linkage map. Spu has an open pitfall type of pitcher trap, while Sps has a more closed, lobster trap, type of pitcher which insects may enter but have difficulty exiting.  We used this F2 to place 64 pitcher morphology quantitative trait loci (QTL) for 17 traits on the genetic linkage map. 
Linkage group 4 with QTL. lengintr is the length of the internal hairy region; periotuk is inward tissue at the opening to form a lobster-trap; fenestra is a pattern of white windowing; smoothzn is an internal zone lacking hairs; numpitch is the number

C) The Sarracenia-microbiome crosstalk

Sarracenia plants trap insects in modified leaves called "pitchers" and digest them to gain N and P nutrients with the help of a complex microbiome that develops in the pitcher fluid. We are using this host-microbiome system for investigating the principles governing microbiome structure, assembly, and interaction with the host. The leaf pitcher architecture of the Sarracenia species varies, which influences the insect species they collect and the species content of the assembled microbiomes. The factors influencing the microbiome community are mostly unknown and likely complicated, involving host plant genetics, the local environment, and prey insects and their associated microbiomes
Plant and environmental factors driving the mechanisms regulating microbiome community assembly, function, and interaction


A carnivorous plant genetic map: pitcher/insect-capture QTL on a genetic linkage map of Sarracenia

R. Malmberg, W. L. Rogers, Magdy S. Alabady

Life Science Alliance, 2018

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