MBG, Plant Conservation Geneticist
• Plant Conservation Genetics
• Restoration Genetics
• Quantitative Genetics
• Species-level molecular systematics
• Plant genetic response to environmental stress/variation
Web Page: MBG
Project: Using population genetics to understand the relative contribution of selfed/outcrossed individuals to populations of a federally endangered plant species, Lewton's polygala (Polygala lewtonii). This project involves combining new genetic data with demographic data to answer questions about the reproductive biology of Polygala lewtonii, an endangered species endemic to Florida. Polygala lewtonii has normal aboveground chasmogamous (outcrossing) flowers and above- and belowground cleistogamous (obligate selfing) flowers, a condition called amphicarpy. Demographic studies show that populations of P. lewtonii are frequently comprised of one or two large, older plants surrounded by a dozen or more seedlings. The goal of this study is to understand the parentage of the seedlings in a population and determine whether they arise from outcrossing or selfing. We are also interested in understanding how this mating system affects overall levels of genetic diversity in populations of this endangered species. The REU project will involve extracting DNA and using previously developed genetic markers to genotype individuals in a population. We will carry out parentage analysis of the genetic data to evaluate the relative contribution to the population of cleistogamous (outcrossed) and chasmogamous (selfed) fruits. We will also use the genetic data to assess levels of genetic diversity in each population, which will be used to understand the overall genetic effects of this unusual mating system.