24 Sep 2021

Yanni Chen Wins Native Plant Society Grant

We are pleased to announce that Ph.D. Candidate Yanni Chen has received an Ann Miller Gonzalez Graduate Research Grant from the Native Plant Society of Texas, for her project titled: “Ecoregion Variation Impacts on Gene Expression Associated with Smoke-induced Germination in Bouteloua gracilis, Shortgrass Prairie Native Species”

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) is a grass native to Texas and plays an important role in cattle grazing, landscape construction, and shortgrass prairie restoration. Smoke, as a low cost efficient seed dormancy breaking treatment, has proven its effectiveness on B. gracilis. However, the seed source of B. gracilis population variation may influence smoke effectiveness, especially if genes showing smoke response in model organisms do not show the same response in native species. Yanni proposed using RT-qPCR to examine variation in primary smoke receptor genes across populations on shortgrass prairie native species, Bouteloua gracilis. The study will verify whether the seed source of B. gracilis will influence smoke induced germination effects, while also enhancing our broader understanding of smoke-induced seed germination.

For the project, Yanni will collect seeds of blue grama grass across the precipitation gradient in Texas and test them for variation in smoke-induced seed germination. Yanni will then test for variation in gene expression in KAI2 and other genes identified as involved in smoke sensing in model organisms, using real-time quantitative PCR (RT-PCR).

Congratulations to Yanni!