Dr. Lynda Delph’s evolutionary ecology lab is seeking students to start Fall 2013 for lab/greenhouse projects. These projects involve working with graduate students to examine variation in root growth among plant populations, how leaf morphology helps plants deal with stressful environmental conditions, plant-insect interactions, anti-herbivore defenses in plants, and effects of plant defensive chemicals on herbivores.
Deidra’s projects: (Contact Deidra Jacobsen at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The first project investigates the various defenses plants use against herbivores. Tasks involve growing Physalis plant species (groundcherries) in a growth chamber and feeding leaves from these plants to Manduca sexta moth larvae and measuring the growth rates of the larvae. The overall goal is to determine which plant characteristics are associated with different levels of plant defense between species.
The second project investigates a similar question from the insect’s perspective: how do the anti-herbivore chemicals produced by plants negatively affect moth larvae that consume them? For this project, moth larvae will be fed an artificial diet with different defensive chemicals in varying concentrations and we will track the growth, survival, and fitness of the moths.
The moths for these studies come from established lab colonies of wild collected and lab raised Manduca sexta; they are continually collected and available for students to use for independent projects. Additionally, students would have the option of growth chamber projects or a combination of insect/plant projects that can be done year round.
Lynda’s projects: (Contact Lynda Delph at email@example.com)
We have collected seed of the dioecious flowering plant Silene latifolia from many locations around the world. These populations vary greatly in their flower size and leaf thickness.
The first project investigates whether allocation to roots varies with flower size and leaf thickness. We hypothesize that plants from hot/dry sites delay the onset of flowering because of the need to allocate more into root growth early in the plant’s life. Tasks involve growing seeds from multiple populations in a greenhouse and measuring allocation to roots vs. above-ground structures.
The second project investigates whether populations with thick leaves suffer less leaf damage in hot/dry conditions. Tasks include growing plants from multiple populations, measuring their photosynthetic rate, exposing them to mild or hot conditions in a growth chamber, and then subsequently re-measuring photosynthetic rate.
We have seeds from multiple populations that can be used to ask a variety of questions, including looking at differences between males and females.