2016 Mentors and Projects
Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany

Christine Edwards

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Christine Edwards

Assistant Scientist, Conservation Genetics Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development

Genetic diversity in the threatened species Missouri bladderpod (Physaria filiformis). Edwards is a population geneticist whose research includes studies of the genetic diversity of endangered species. Missouri bladderpod (Physaria filiformis) is a federally threatened species, occurring in widely scattered populations in southwestern Missouri, the northern Arkansas Ozarks, and the Ouachita Mountains in central Arkansas.  The species occurs on three different substrates; most populations occupy limestone glades in Missouri and Arkansas, although populations also are found on dolomite and shale glades in Arkansas. Although several past studies have carried out genetic analyses of a subset of populations of P. filiformis using allozyme or AFLP markers, a comprehensive rangewide study of patterns of genetic diversity and structure using highly polymorphic markers is lacking.  A genetic analysis across the range of Missouri bladderpod is needed to identify priority populations that should be managed and maintained to preserve genetic diversity throughout Missouri and Arkansas. This information will also be an important component in identifying additional actions necessary for possible delisting in the future and will be included in a revision to the recovery plan.  In this study, the REU student will genotype the ~350 individuals of P. filiformis at 16 microsatellite loci, and analyze the resulting data to understand 1) rangewide patterns of genetic diversity and structure in P. filiformis, particularly across geographically separated populations, 2) the effects of differences in substrate on patterns of genetic diversity and structure, and 3) implications for the prioritization of in-situ and ex-situ conservation efforts for the species.

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