Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Dr. David Bogler

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Dr. David Bogler

Asst. Curator, MBG  

Research Interests

• Systematic Botany
• Molecular Techniques, DNA Sequencing
• Plant Anatomy, Morphology, Cytology
• Flora of Missouri, Southwestern U.S., Mexico
• Agavaceae, Monocots, Legumes, Cycads
• Conservation Genetics
• Interactive Keys

Web Page: David Bogler Photography and Botany

1) DNA Barcoding the Plants of Shaw Nature Reserve. An exciting new development in plant systematics is the rise of DNA barcoding - the use of standardized short DNA sequences to identify plants and animals to the species level (CBOL Plant Working Group 2009). Although not without problems, DNA barcodes have the potential to revolutionize plant taxonomy by making it possible for non-specialists to identify species quickly and efficiently. Applications are found in conservation biology where they can be used to rapidly identify endangered, invasive, or rainforest species. MBG has a project to generate a 2-gene DNA sequence barcode for all plant species at the Garden's Shaw Nature Reserve. This reserve consists of 2,400 acres of Ozark forest, bottomland forest, riparian areas, natural glades and restored tall-grass prairie. In total, the reserve contains 1,053 species, 503 genera, and 151 families of plants, including bryophytes. Students who choose this project will become familiar with the plants and communities at SNR through weekly field trips, collect and identify plants using keys and the herbarium, prepare high quality voucher specimens, preserve leaf material in silica for DNA, extract DNA using FastPrep kits, run gels, and amplify the specific DNA barcode regions (rbcL, matK). Primers for these regions have been designed to work for a broad range of plants. Barcode sequences will be uploaded to GenBank and the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) to make them available to the public. The sequences will be compared with other species in the genus as well as with sequences from the same species from elsewhere in its range that are already in the database. Blind tests will be performed to see how well the barcodes identify species. Publications will discuss the effectiveness of barcoding sequences in identifying species and regional variation.

2) Pollen Atlas of Midwestern Plants: Shaw Nature Reserve. Plant pollen and pollinators are important and often under-appreciated components of natural and agricultural ecosystems. All plants produce pollen. About 70% of all plants require animal pollinators, including 35% of crops worldwide, yet we know little about pollen and native pollinators of our non-crop species. As part of a larger collaborative project on pollination biology, Dr. Bogler is producing an online pollen atlas of Missouri plants, with multiple pollen images, an interactive key to identification, pollen descriptions, and information on pollination biology. Currently there is no single source for this information, and many species in Missouri lack even minimal information on pollen or pollinators. We are starting with one species from each of the 422 genera of flowering plants at Shaw Nature Reserve, and eventually plan to include all 878 genera of vascular plants in Missouri. One or two students will collect specimens in the field and prepare voucher specimens for the herbarium, process pollen samples using acetolysis, and image pollen grains using light microscopy and SEM. Pollen will be carefully measured and digitally imaged using the Olympus BX40 microscope and JEOL JCM 5000 tabletop SEM in our lab. Students will research the literature for information on pollination biology and encouraged to make original field observations on flower visitors and pollination biology. With guidance, students will prepare pollen descriptions and add their taxa to the interactive key, along with information about pollination biology. The results will be incorporated into the online Missouri Pollen Project webpage (prototype).

3) Conservation Genetics of Rare Plants. Many species of plants become endangered when their habitats are taken or adversely affected by human activities. As populations become smaller and more isolated there an increased possibility of losing genetic variation. Some species may pass through a "genetic bottleneck" where they lose a high proportion of gene variants, reducing their species' potential to adapt to changing conditions. Habitat managers must make practical decisions about how to conserve the remnant populations and maximize genetic diversity. Some species have been "rescued" by growing them "ex situ" in botanical gardens. In some cases it is possible to propagate rare species in gardens and reintroduce them back into the wild. For a few taxa there is more genetic variation in garden collections than exists in the wild. Intelligent conservation requires quantitative information on genetic variation. At MBG we are developing several population-level molecular markers to measure genetic variation, including sequencing, ISSRs, AFLPs and microsatellites. Students will work on several model species that are rare in the wild but under cultivation at the Garden to develop protocols and produce preliminary genetic data, analyze the data using computer software, and summarize the results. Possible taxa include Delphinium exaltatum, Lindera melissaefolium, Leitneria floridana, and Agave eggersiana.

Selected Publications and Websites

• Bogler, D. B. 2011. Missouri Pollen Project.
• Bogler, D. B. 2010. Key to Monocots of the U.S.
• Bogler, D. B. 2009. Key to Legumes of the U.S.
• Bogler, D. B. 2008. Key to Grasses of the U.S.
• Bogler, D. J., J. C. Pires, and J. Francisco-Ortega. 2006. Phylogeny of Agavaceae based on ndhF, rbcL, and ITS Sequences: Implications of molecular data for classification. In: Columbus, J.T., E.A. Friar, J.M. Porter, L.M. Prince, and M. G. Simpson [eds.]. Monocots: comparative biology and evolution. 2 vols, p. 311-326. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, California, USA.
• Bogler, D. J. and J. Francisco-Ortega. 2004. Molecular systematic studies of Cycads: evidence from trnL and ITS2 rDNA sequences. Botanical Review 70(2): 260-273.
• Bogler, D. J. 2006. Cucurbitaceae. In: G. Yatskievych (Ed.), Steyermark's Flora of Missouri, Volume 2, p. 974-988. Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri Botanical Garden.

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