Genetics and Nutrient Conditions of Reed Canary Grass

Name of Award

3M Student-Faculty Collaborative Grants - Small Scale

Date Awarded

Summer 6-1-2016



Project Description

Martha Phillips, PhD, Professor of Biology, was awarded a 3M Student-Faculty Collaborative Small Scale grant. The aim of this project is to distinguish between to alternative hypotheses for why reed canary grass, a known invasive species that is present in a set of wetlands in a long-term monitoring project, has not taken over any of these wetlands in the past 27 years. One possible reason is that the reed canary grass populations in wetlands at Cedar Creek are the native reed canary grass, which is not invasive. Because the invasive variety is a tetraploid (with extra sets of chromosomes), determining the chromosome number (karyotype), will allow us to support or refute that hypothesis. This will be done by collecting plant material from which we can get growing roots (seeds and rhizomes) and using the root tips (where cell division is occurring) for karyotyping. An alternative hypothesis is that undisturbed wetlands without high nutrient inputs can resist the invasive strains of reed canary grass. These wetlands have been undisturbed for more than 30 years; to assess nutrient status we will collect soil, water, and plant samples to determine the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, the two nutrients most likely limiting productivity in these systems.

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