20 Jun 2019

Starting a new seed experiment

Yanni prepares seeds for germination experiment.

Ph.D. student Yanni Chen is starting a new experiment this summer, as part of her project to study the extent phylogenetic signal in seed traits for species that inhabit short grass praries. Yanni has commercially available seeds from 50 species of grasses, forbs and shrubs all sourced from Texas. Yanni will be measuring seed size and mass, which along with this germination trial will be used as traits to test for phylogenetic signal on the angiosperm phylogeny.

Later this summer, Yanni will be extracting DNA from the seeds to test the ability of the Angiosperms353 kit to correctly identify plants from seed tissue, and to estimate the level of genetic diversity in commercially available seeds.

A select few species will also receive a smoke treatment, which is a technique restoration managers use to stimulate seed growth in short grass prairies. Yanni is interested in whether the molecular mechanisms of smoke response are conserved across the flowering plants, or whether different suites of genes respond to smoke in (for example) grasses vs. forbs.