Sep 9, 2019
Arkansas intern researched blackberry plant viruses as Adair Scholar

Ioannis Tzanetakis, professor of plant virology at the University of Arkansas, received help from a student intern this summer with a project on the epidemiology of berry and ornamental viruses.

Epidemiology is the study of incidence, distribution and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.

Maria Gomez, a third-year student at Los Andes University in Bogota, Colombia, assisted Tzanetakis with his plant virome research, a holistic approach studying the effect of plant viruses on their hosts.

Tzanetakis, a faculty member in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Science’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and a scientist with the U of A System Division of Agriculture, is evaluating the effect of mixed virus infections in blackberry and peony plants.

Gomez participated in the project as an Adair Scholar, which funds undergraduate student summer internships. She was been in Fayetteville from the end of May through early August.

The Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology offers the undergraduate endowed scholarship in honor of C. Roy Adair, a geneticist and plant breeder, whose accomplishments helped establish the preeminence of Arkansas Rice.

Gomez investigated a subset of viruses that infect blackberry and peony, and their ability to be mechanically transmitted to other plants and their ability to infect the next plant generation through infected seed.

“Maria (Majo) is an exceptional student with an excellent background and drive to resolve scientific problems,” said Tzanetakis. “Operating a multinational lab with individuals from five continents, we expand our scientific and personal horizons, benefiting from the experiences of the internships and providing students with toolboxes to improve their research in their home country. We are able to elevate the status of the U of A and the Division of Agriculture across the globe. Many of the Adair scholars have come back to become graduate students in our department and been successful in academia, industry and extension in Arkansas, the U.S. and internationally.”

The Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology offers the undergraduate endowed scholarship in honor of C. Roy Adair, a geneticist and plant breeder, whose accomplishments helped establish the preeminence of Arkansas rice. The first rice breeder to work in Arkansas, Adair and his wife Ethel Owen Adair left their entire estate of more than $1 million to scholarship funds at the U of A and Hendrix College in Conway.

The research internship is offered every year to junior and senior undergraduates, at the U of A or other institutions, with an interest in plant pathology. The application is available here.

Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.

The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

As an Adair Scholar, Maria Gomez, left, received hands-on plant virome research experience under the direction of professor Ioannis Tzanetakis of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Photo: Fred Miller


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