Here is a list of REU mentors and potential projects that have been proposed for 2012. Mentors are recruited throughout the fall, winter and spring. Check back for updates. On your application please request one or more mentors and projects. Following acceptance, mentor assignment is based on student requests, mentor requests, and what we feel will be good matches.
Mentors and Projects
– 1.) Evaluating the Effects of Climate Change on Midwest Plant Species; 2.) How Will Edaphic Endemics Respond to Climate Change?
- Morphology and Relationships of the Brassicaceae Genera Nasturtium, Warea
, and Paysonia
– 1.) Morphology and Systematics of the Genus Ptelea
; 2.) SEM-based Authentication of Medicinal Plants; 3.) Sustainable Local Medicinal Plant Production: What “Foodshed” is Required?
- Patterns of Habitat Suitability of Border Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium
) an Invasive Species of Missouri.
– 1.) DNA Barcoding the Plants of Shaw Nature Reserve; 2.) Pollen Atlas of Midwestern Plants; 3.) Conservation Genetics of Rare Plants.
- Aroid Flora of the Volcán Pichincha Region in Ecuador; Aroid Flora of Cordillera del Cóndor (Ecuador and Peru); Aroid florula of the Pacto-Mashpi Region (Pichincha Province) Ecuador.
- Evaluating Seed Characters in Lythraceae (purple loosestrife family).
and Kyra Krakos
- What impacts do changes in plant phenology have on community pollination relationships?
- 1.) Discovering New Plants from the Andes. 2.) Seed Variation in Passiflora.
- Documenting the Plants Collected by Early Explorers of Western North America and Northern Mexico in the MBG Herbarium.
– 1.) Plants from the Andes; 2.) Seed and Trichome Variation in Melastomataceae.
- American Indian Ethnobotany in the Prairie Bioregion of South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska.
Demography and population ecology of rare plants
Ex situ conservation and autecology of endangered species in the Midwest.
1.) Predicting the effects of climate change on Midwest Plant Species. We are currently working on a large-scale climate change project that aims to understand which Midwestern plant species are vulnerable to climate change using computer models and field and growth chamber experiments. In this project, students will learn the nature and properties of plant life-history data, such as dispersal mode, growth form, life-cycle, climate regime, habitat specificity, biotic interactions, genetic variation, and phenology, and why these data are important for evaluating the effect of climate change on the extinction risk of plant species. Students will gain experience conducting keyword searches in scientific search engines (e.g., Scopus) and in NatureServe Explorer (http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/) to gather plant life-history data. NatureServe Explorer is the most comprehensive database for information on US plant species and an invaluable tool for scientists working on US plant conservation. Students will organize the plant life-history data into a Microsoft Excel database which will be used to calculate a Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI). Developed and used widely by North America’s leading conservation organization (The Nature Conservancy), the CCVI uses distribution and natural history information for a species within a specific geographical area to rapidly estimate its relative extinction risk to future climate change. Students will work with scientists to calculate the CCVI using the life-history data they gathered.
2.) How Will Edaphic Endemics Respond to Climate Change? A major challenge for conservation biologists is predicting the fates of species in a rapidly changing climate of the 21st century. In the Midwestern United States, rock outcrops support a distinctive flora that includes many rare endemic plants, many of which are of conservation concern due to restricted distributions. Understanding the future fates of rare edaphic endemics are especially challenging because it’s unclear whether current distributions are limited by the specialized soils of outcrops, by climate, or by a combination of climate and soil. In this study, we ask two questions: 1) Can edaphic endemics live outside of their current climate niche? What is the relative importance of soil and climate in restricting the distribution of edaphic endemics? To answer these questions, we will establish transplant experiments within and outside the geographic ranges of several species in the genus Leavenworthia, which are winter annuals endemic to limestone outcrops in the lower Midwestern US. We also plan to subject species of Leavenworthia to germination experiments where growth chamber conditions are set to future climate scenarios. Opportunities will be available for the student to conduct field work in the Ozark Mountains, Ouachita Mountains, and the Tennessee Central Basin. The student will assist scientists with processing seed samples collected in the field, setting up seed transplant experiments in growth chambers and at field sites, and recording demographic data (germination, survival, flowering, and fruiting). Students can participate in the analysis and preparation of manuscripts based on the experimental data.
Albrecht, M.A. and J.C. Penagos Z. 2012. Seed germination ecology of three imperiled plants of rock outcrops in the southeastern United States. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 139: 85-94.
Albrecht, M.A. and J.M. Maschinsky. In press. Influence of founder population size, propagule stages, and life history on the survival of reintroduced plant populations. Reintroduction in a changing climate Promise and, Perils. J. Maschinski and K. E. Haskins (editors). Island Press, Washington, DC.
Albrecht, M.A., E.O Guerrant Jr., J.M. Maschinsky and K.L. Kennedy. 2011. Editorial: A long-term view of rare plant reintroduction. Biological Conservation 144: 2557-2558.
Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2011. Variation in seed dormancy and germination in three co-occurring forest herbs of eastern deciduous forests. Plant Ecology 212: 1465-1477.
Albrecht, M.A. and K.A. McCue. 2010. Changes in demographic processes over long time scales reveal the challenges of restoring an endangered plant. Restoration Ecology 18: 235-243.
Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2009. Seedling recruitment limitation shapes the distribution of shade-adapted forest herbs across a topographic moisture gradient. Journal of Ecology 97: 1037-1049.
Systematics and Phylogeny of the Mustard Family Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
Brassicaceae of the Himalayas, Central Asia, and the New World
Evolution of Arabidopsis and Related Genera
Morphology and Relationships of the Brassicaceae Genera Nasturtium, Warea, and Paysonia. Ihsan Al-Shehbaz is the world's leading expert on the systematics and phylogeny of the mustard family Brassicaceae (Cruciferae). His studies incorporate intensive fieldwork, herbarium study, and molecular methods. There are a number of small genera in Brassicaceae in which generic and species relationships are unclear, either because of insufficient collection or study. Students could work on clarifying the relationships within these small genera so that a stable taxonomic treatment can be published. The genus containing water cress, Nasturtium, is represented by 5-6 species, of which two are endemic to North America, one North African, one Eurasian, one European, and possibly one in Spain. The genus containing pineland cress, Warea, has four species all in the southeastern United States (mostly Florida). The eight species of Paysonia are found primarily in Tennessee, with some in Texas and northern Mexico. Students undertaking these projects can work with some or all of the following activities, depending on their background and interests: fieldwork; organization of MBG herbarium collections and specimens borrowed from other institutions; review of pertinent literature; examination and measurement of morphological structures, recording data; assisting with the preparation of keys and species descriptions, extracting DNA from silica-dried leaf material, amplifying ITS, chloroplast DNA spacers, or other regions; analyzing sequence data, and generating phylogenetic tree hypotheses of relationships between species; and assisting with manuscript preparation. Students can participate as co-authors in the preparation of manuscripts for publication based on this research
Franzke, A., M. A. Lysak, I. A. Al-Shehbaz, M. A. Koch, and K. Mummenhoff. 2010. Cabbage family affairs: The evolutionary history of Brassicaceae. Trends in Plant Sciences 16: 108-116.
Warwick, S. I., K. Mummenhoff, C. A. Sauder, M. A. Koch, and I. A. Al-Shehbaz. 2010. Closing the gaps: Phylogenetic relationships in the Brassicaceae based on DNA sequence data of nuclear ribosomal ITS. Pl. Syst. Evol. 285: 209-232.
Al-Shehbaz, I. A. and co-workers. 2010. Brassicaceae. Pp. 224-746 in Flora of North America Editorial Committee (eds.). Oxford University Press, New York.
Couvreur, T. L. P., A. Franzke, I. A. Al-Shehbaz, F. Bakker, M. A. Koch, and K. Mummenhoff. 2010. Molecular phylogenetics, temporal diversification and principles of evolution in the mustard family (Brassicaceae). Mol. Biol. Evol. 27: 55-71.
Beilstein, M. A., I. A. Al-Shehbaz, S. Mathews, and E. A. Kellogg. 2008. Brassicaceae phylogeny inferred from phytochrome A and ndhF sequence data: Tribes and trichomes revisited. Amer. J. Bot. 95: 1307-1327.
Identification, quality control, and systematics of medicinal plants
Revisionary and phylogenetic studies
Chemical variability in medicinal plant species
1.) Morphology and Systematics of the Genus Ptelea. Ptelea is a genus of trees belonging to the citrus family; it is native to the eastern and southern portions of North America, where it has been used in traditional herbal medicine. The last revision of this genus, in 1962, recognized three species. Two of these were local southwestern species; P. trifoliata was broadly defined as a widespread and variable species, with five subspecies most of which were divided into multiple varieties. Chemical studies have reported that different subspecies have different chemistry. It is questionable whether the current taxonomic treatment is very good. On one hand, recognition of numerous slightly different forms as varieties and subspecies is often not biologically meaningful; on the other hand, some of these “subspecies” may actually be different species that were wrongly lumped together. This kind of confusion can obscure the results of studies of a plant’s medicinal activities. We will seek to resolve the question by doing a phenetic study, in which measurements will be taken from many specimens and the data will be run through a computer program to see how many separate clusters they group into. A list of important characters has been chosen, some data have been taken, and herbarium loans of southwestern material have been obtained. Using a computer database, the participating student will take measurements and notes from each of several hundred specimens, then observe or help with data analysis. Knowledge of the basic parts of a plant and good attention to detail are needed; no statistical background is necessary. It is expected that the participating student will be listed as a co-author on a published manuscript.
2.) SEM-based Authentication of Medicinal Plants. Consumer products made from medicinal plants are required to be correctly identified, but independently confirming the botanical identity of raw materials is sometimes difficult or impossible. Methods include chemical and DNA-based authentication, but many genera have not been subjected to enough study to identify chemical markers (if any exist) that reliably separate desired from undesired species. A potential alternative involves the use of scanning electron microscope (SEM). Using the genus Grindelia as a model, a student will attempt to develop reliable means of distinguishing the four commercially used medicinal species from unofficial and other undesirable species native to the same areas. The student will confirm the identity of herbarium specimens using keys, SEM images of fragments taken from specimens, and evaluate the potential for identification of species.
3.) Sustainable Local Medicinal Plant Production: What “Foodshed” is Required? Relocalization is an increasingly popular concept among the public in some regions, in response to economic difficulties and growing recognition of the ecological consequences of globalization. American researchers have recently begun to think in terms of a “foodshed,” comparable to a watershed, to determine whether, and how much, land available in the vicinity of a given city would suffice to feed its population. Medicinal plants, which require far less space per capita than staple food crops, have enormous potential to be locally and affordably produced to supply local businesses and consumers. The student will determine from literature what medicinal plants are currently popular in the U.S. market and the quantities consumed, what plants considered suitable for each popular use can be grown in selected regions, and (with the aid of limited field collections) what their approximate potential yields are. Using a range of assumptions about growing conditions and per-capita consumption, the student will calculate how much land would be required for urban areas of specified size to produce sufficient raw materials to replace at least 90% of their average current consumption of botanical dietary supplements.
Applequist, W.L., and D.E. Moerman. 2011. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.): a neglected panacea? A review of ethnobotany, bioactivity, and biomedical research. Economic Botany 65:209–225.
Applequist, W., illustrated by B. Alongi. 2006. The identification of medicinal plants: a handbook of the morphology of botanicals in commerce. American Botanical Council, Austin, TX.
Applequist, W. L. 2005. Root anatomy of Ligusticum species (Apiaceae) sold as osha compared to that of potential contaminants. Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants 11(3):1–11.
Applequist, W. L., D. J. McGlinn, M. Miller, Q. G. Long, and J. S. Miller. 2007. How well do herbarium data predict the location of present populations? A test using Echinacea species in Missouri. Biodiversity and Conservation 16:1397–1407.
Conservation Biology: effects of forest fragmentation and threatened species
Forest Ecology: plant-animal interactions and forest regeneration
Community Ecology: birds and plants
Andean Ecology and Ethnobotany
Patterns of Habitat Suitability of Border Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium) an Invasive Species of Missouri. Requirements for suitable habitats are critical factors for successful control and prevention of invasive species. The Border Privet is a deciduous shrub native from Japan, Korea, and China. It is commonly used as a hedge in landscaping and has several ecological impacts. This species is easily dispersed by wildlife and forms dense thickets that can crowd out native species. In the Midwest this species presents a spotted distribution with the most northern populations occurring in Missouri at the Shaw Nature Reserve. Populations of this species have increased dramatically at the Reserve in recent years. One or two students will describe the suitable habitat for the Border Privet at the Reserve in terms of the abiotic environment. Understanding why this species is occurring in particular locations of the reserve will allow the students to predict potential sites of future colonization and to establish prevention guidelines of invasion. The students will research on the life history traits of this species, and collect data on abiotic variables (i.e. light availability, air and soil temperature, air and soil humidity, and soil compaction) and anecdotal data on biotic-related factors (i.e. herbivores, seed dispersers, and pollinators). In addition, the students will map populations in terms of suitable habitats occupied and unoccupied using GIS tools, and research on techniques of invasive species control.
Arango Caro, S. and D. Arenas. In press. Vultur gryphus. In: Gustavo Kattan (ed.). Red Book of Birds of Colombia. 2nd edition. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Ministerio del Medio Ambiente, and Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt. Bogotá, Colombia.
Castellanos, L., Arango-Caro, S., Vieira, M.I. and S. Villalobos Hernández. 2008. Species of High Cultural Value Firewood Forests I. Species Series of Colombia 10. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt. Bogotá, Colombia.
Arango-Caro, S. 2006. Functioning of Biodiversity in Terrestrial Natural Systems: Processes and Interactions. National Report on Advancements on the Knowledge and Information of Biodiversity 2002–2004 (INACIB). Vol. 2, págs. 330–344 en: M.E. Chávez and M. Santamaría (eds.). Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt.
Arango-Caro, S. 2004. Ethnobotanical studies in the Central Andes of Colombia: Distribution of knowledge on the use of plants based on informants’ characteristics. Lyonia 7(2):90–104.
Arango-Caro, S. 2004. Guide of Medicinal Plants of Common Use in Salento, Colombia. MBG Press. St. Louis. Pág. 71.
Pollination and Breeding Systems
Orchidaceae - Orchids
Asclepiadaceae - Milkweeds
Asclepiadaceae, Meade's Milkweed
Pollination Biology and Breeding Systems of Threatened and Rare Species.Retha Meier and Peter Bernhardt explore the problems endangered plants may experience when it's time to reproduce. In recent years, projects in the Missouri Ozarks and Kansas dry prairies included studies on Missouri bladderpod (Physaria filiformis), Mead's milkweed (Aeclepias meadii) and two lady's slipper orchids (Cypripedium species). However, the techniques they use in the mid-west are also shared with international colleagues in joint projects with scientific institutions in China (Kunming; slipper orchids) and Australia (Perth and Sydney; sun orchids and members of the macadamia nut family). Pollination studies require a lot of field work and then results are checked in the laboratory using h light, Scanning Electron and Fluorescence. microscopy. Their field studies divide into two parts. Experimental pollinations are performed in the field to see where self or cross pollinations are more efficient producing healthy pollen tubes that penetrate the ovary and fertilize a new generation of seeds. These results are checked with fluorescence analyses. The second half of each study revolves around the diversity, density and behavior of native pollinators. Why do they, or don't they, visit the flowers of rare species? This requires collecting and analyzing flower nectar, flower odors and recording the life-span of flowers on the plants over the flowering season. They also collect and analyze a select number of pollinating insects (beetles, bees, butterflies and flies) to determine whether they transport the pollen of the flowers they visit. Using colorful stains for pollen walls under white light and/or placing insect body parts under the Scanning Electron Microscope allows them to "finger print" actual pollen grains and how they become attached to the pollinator.
Bernhardt, P. and R. Edens-Meier. 2010. What we think we know vs. what we need to know about orchid pollination and conservation: Cypripedium L. as a model lineage. Botanical Review 76: 204-219.
Bernhardt, P. 2008. Gods and Goddesses in the Garden; Greco-Roman Mythology and the Scientific Names of Plants. Rutgers U. Press.
Edens-Meier, R.E., Joseph, M., Aduser, M., Westhus, E. & Bernhardt, P. 2011. The pollination biology of an annual endemic herb, Physaria filiformis (Brassicaceae), in the Missouri Ozarks following controlled burns. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 138: 287-297.
Edens-Meier, R.M., Vance, N. Luo, Y.B., Li, Peng, Westhus, E. and Bernhardt, P. 2010. Pollen-Pistil interactions in North American and Chinese Cypripedium L. (Orchidaceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 17: 370-381.
Edens-Meier, R., M. Arduser, E. Westhus, and P. Bernhardt. 2011. Pollination ecology of Cypripedium reginae Walter (Orchidaceae): Size Matters. Telopea 13: 327-340.
Krakos, K., Booth, G.M. and Bernhardt, P., 2010. Mechanical vs. beetle-mediated self-pollination in Gossypium tomentosum (Malvaceae), an endangered shrub. International Journal of Insect Science 2: 35-49.
Li, J.H., Liu, Z.J., Salazar, G., Bernhardt, P., Perner, H., Tomohisa, Y., Jin, X,H.,. Chung, S.W., Luo, Y.B. 2011. Molecular phylogeny of Cypripedium (Orchidaceae: Cypripedioideae) inferred from multiple nuclear and chloroplast regions. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 61: 3080320.
Ren, Z-X., Li, DZ, Bernhardt, P. & Wang, H. 2011. Flowers of Cypripedium fargesii (Orchidaceae) fool flat-footed flies (Platypezidae) by faking fungus-infected foliage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108: 7478-7480.
Dr. David Bogler
Molecular Techniques, DNA Sequencing
Plant Anatomy, Morphology, Cytology
Flora of Missouri, Southwestern U.S., Mexico
Agavaceae, Monocots, Legumes, Cycads
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 planning to start with one species from each of the 422 genera of flowering plants at Shaw Nature Reserve, and eventually include all 878 genera of vascular plants in Missouri. One or two students will learn to collect specimens and pollen samples, prepare voucher specimens for the herbarium, process pollen samples, and image pollen grains using light microscopy and SEM. Pollen will be carefully measured and digitally imaged in polar and equatorial views 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 at http://davidbogler.com/Pollen/pollen.html ).
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 candidate taxa include Lindera melissaefolium, Leitneria floridana, and Agave eggersiana.
Selected Publications and Websites
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.
Systematics and Ecology of Neotropical Araceae
Floristics of Araceae for Neotropical Areas
Horticulture of Araceae
Phenological Variations of Neotropical Floras
Aroid Flora of the Volcán Pichincha Region in Ecuador; Aroid Flora of Cordillera del Cóndor (Ecuador and Peru); Aroid florula of the Pacto-Mashpi Region (Pichincha Province) Ecuador. Tom Croat is a widely acknowledged expert on the aroid family, Araceae, a very large and diverse family in the tropics. He maintains a living aroid collection of over 10,000 plants. Dr. Croat spends much of his time in the field collecting aroids in the Andes and Amazon regions of South America. His field collection numbers recently surpassed 100,000. Most recently he has been collecting plants in the Volcán Pichincha region of Ecuador, the Cordillera del Cóndor in Peru. These areas are geographically isolated on the edge of the Amazon basin, with numerous endemic species. With guidance, students will learn to identify known species using diagnostic keys and herbarium collections. New species are expected and students will assist Dr. Croat in their description and publication. Undergraduate students working with Croat have accomplished this successfully on many occasions in the past. Students will also compile lists of species from these regions, and use Sorenson's Index and other indices to compare species richness, endemicity, and floristic relationships of the aroids in these sites to other areas of South America. All of these projects will involve sorting out species of Araceae, describing new species and publishing new species with the senior author; developing and using Lucid interactive key technology to determine collections; dealing with both dried and living collections of Araceae. See more about aroids and the Principal Investigator at http://www.aroid.org
Croat, T. B., A. Jackson and C. V. Kostelac. 2010. New species of Araceae from the Cordillera del Cóndor, Ecuador. Willdenowia 40: 123-136.
Croat, T. B. and A. Acebey. 2005. New species of Araceae from Bolivia and the tropical Andes. Novon 15: 80–103.
Croat, T. B. and J. Chapera. 2005. A New Endemic Species of Anthurium (Araceae) from Brazil. Aroideana 28: 49-51.
Systematics, taxonomy, and floristics of the Lythraceae
Systematics and phylogeny of Cuphea
Evaluating Seed Characters in Lythraceae (purple loosestrife family). Shirley Graham is considered the world's leading expert on the systematics, phylogenetics, and floristics of the family Lythraceae. The family, with 28 genera and about 620 species, includes a number of important ornamentals and fruit crops, such as pomegranate, crape myrtle and cuphea. Shirley currently works on the floristics and taxonomy of Lythraceae in Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, and Africa, incorporating morphology, anatomy, cytology, and molecular characters in her revisionary treatments. Dr. Graham seeks undergraduates to study the utility of seed characters as potential taxonomic and phylogenetic markers in these groups. Seeds, supported by vouchered specimens, are available for study for all genera. One unique seed character of interest is the remarkable mucilaginous trichomes of the seed coat. Upon wetting of the seed the trichomes evaginate through the epidermal cell wall to cover the seed surface, where they are believed to enhance uptake of water for seed germination. Trichome forms vary from straight to spiraled, and not all genera possess them. The internal seed anatomy is expected to offer additional phylogenetically informative characters. The student researchers will study general seed structure and learn to identify cell types in several genera and species. They will prepare permanent thin sections of seeds using a microtome, photograph sections and whole seeds using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, and prepare descriptions for selected genera of the family. Two students can be mentored. Students can participate as co-authors in the preparation of a manuscript for publication based on this research.
Graham, S. A., M. Diasgranados, and J. C. Barber. 2011. Relationships among the confounding African genera Ammannia, Hionanthera, Nesaea, and Rotala. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 166: 1-19.
Barber, J. C., A. Ghebretinsae, and S. A. Graham. 2010. An expanded phylogeny of Cuphea (Lythraceae) and a North American monophyly. Plant Systematics and Evolution 289: 35-44.
Graham, S. A. 2010. Revision of the Caribbean genus Ginoria (Lythraceae), including Haitia from Hispaniola. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 97: 34-90.
Graham, S. A. 2007. Lythraceae. In: Kubitski, K. and S. Renner (eds.), The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants 9: 226-246. Springer-Verlag, New York.
Graham, S. A., J. Freudenstein, and M. Luker. 2006. A phylogenetic study of Cuphea (Lythraceae) based on morphology and nuclear rDNA ITS sequences. Systematic Botany 31: 764-778.
Graham, S. A., J. Hall, K. Sytsma and S.-H. Shi. 2005. Phylogenetic analysis of the Lythraceae based on four gene regions and morphology. International Journal of Plant Science 166: 995-1017.
Systematics and evolution of Onagraceae
Phylogeny and evolution of Epilobium
Phylogenetics and biogeography of Ludwigia
Climate-related phenological change and impacts on pollination systems
Reproductive biology of flowering plants
Phylogenetics and evolution of Oenothera
Pollination biology and climate change
Invasive species management
What impacts do changes in plant phenology have on community pollination relationships? Recently documented worldwide declines in insect pollinators, which are responsible for pollination of most wild and cultivated plants, suggest an urgent need for better understanding of pollination community dynamics in a changing world. Many recent studies document changes in plant and animal phenology and/or shifts in distribution in response to changes in climate. This project has four specific objectives: (1) determine habitat-specific changes in plant community phenology in response to climate change, (2) explore potential changes in insect floral resource use and specialization, (3) compare changes in the phenological mismatch of generalist versus specialist pollinators and their food plants, and (4) elucidate the impact of changes in pollinator behavior on plant reproductive success. We are carrying out weekly monitoring of plant phenology in multiple communities, adding to a dataset begun in 1937 at the Shaw Nature Reserve in eastern Missouri; preliminary analyses indicate both shifts in bloom time and extended duration of flowering, and therefore an increase in co-blooming species. Microclimate monitored in five different habitats with highly distinct biota, ecologies, and distributions will allow us to discern how regional climate change is experienced in specific habitats. We are now recruiting students to carry out pollination studies to explore what if any impacts these phenology changes have on community pollination relationships through time. We will compare pollinators that visit many species (generalists) with those that visit few (specialists) to see if phenology shifts impact them differentially. Students will gather pollination data for multiple plant species – observing and recording effective pollination visits, collecting plant and insect vouchers, quantifying and characterizing pollen loads on the insects, and quantifying reproductive success (fruit/seed set) in those plants – and in some cases compare those results with other historical analyses. Students will have the opportunity to publish results of their own pollination analyses, as well as to interact with multiple collaborators on broader community-wide analyses of climate-driven phenology change and community pollination ecology.
Wagner, W.L., P.C. Hoch, H. Lewis, and B. J. Grewell. 2012. Onagraceae. Pp. 925—955, in Baldwin, B.G. et al. (eds.). The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California, Second Edition. Univ. California Press, Berkeley.
Wagner, W. L., P. C. Hoch, and P. H. Raven. 2007. Revised classification of the Onagraceae. Syst. Bot. Monogr. 83: 1–240.
Peng, C.-I., C. L. Schmidt, P. C. Hoch and P. H. Raven. 2005. Systematics and evolution of Ludwigia sect. Dantia (Onagraceae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 92: 307–359.
Clinebell, R. R. II., A. Crowe, D. P. Gregory, and P. C. Hoch. 2004. Pollination ecology of Gaura and Calylophus (Onagraceae, tribe Onagreae) in western Texas, U. S. A. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 93: 369–400.
Krakos, K., G. Booth, J. Gardner, and M. Neipp. 2011. Nectar for plant defense: the feeding of the non-native coccinellid beetle, Curinus coeruleus, on extra-floral nectaries of Hawaiian native Hibiscus brackenridgei. Internat. J. Insect Sci. 3: 11-21.
Krakos, K., G. Booth, and P. Bernhardt. 2010. Mechanical vs. beetle-mediated self-pollination in Gossypium tomentosum (Malvaceae), an endangered shrub. Internat. J. Insect Sci. 2: 35-49.
Powell, K., K. Krakos, and T. Knight. 2010. Comparing the reproductive success and pollination biology of an invasive plant to its rare and common native congeners: a case study in the genus Cirsium (Asteraceae). Biol. Invas. 13: 905-917.
Burraston, K., J. Gardner, and G. Booth. 2005. SEM evaluation of the plant-pollinator interactions between Nitidulid beetles and a native tropical Malvaceae species, Gossypium tomentosum, on Kauai. Microscopy and Microanalysis, Vol. II.
Neotropical floristics and conservation
Passifloraceae, Olacaceae and Santalaceae
Catalogue of Bolivian Vascular Plants
Botanical Inventory of the Madidi Region
Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador
1.) Discovering New Plants from the Andes. The Andes are one of the most diverse regions of the world. They are still largely unexplored and new species continue to be discovered. Carmen Ulloa and Peter Jørgensen have worked for many years in the paramos of southern Ecuador and mountains of Bolivia. Working with colleagues in South America (Universidad del Azuay, Herbario Nacional de Ecuador), they have generated checklists on the vascular flora of Ecuador, and trees and shrubs of the Andes, and other regions, taxonomic treatments, and floras. Their research also includes conservation biology and biogeography. Jørgensen is also part of the Passiflora Research Network. Ulloa and Jørgensen are looking for undergraduates to participate in describing and publishing new species from the Andes. Students will become familiar with Andean biogeography, review relevant taxonomic literature, examine recent collections from Ecuador and Bolivia, and learn to identify specimens using keys and herbarium collections. Specimens that are thought to represent new species will be measured and carefully analyzed. Minute leaf characters and seed structures will be examined with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Students will assist Ulloa and Jørgensen with the technical description, preparation of distribution maps and images, and publication process.
2.) Seed Variation in Passiflora. Peter Jørgensen is also looking for an undergraduate to conduct a scanning electron microscope survey of seed characters in Passiflora.
Jørgensen, P.M. (ed.) 2009. Biodiversity and Conservation in the Andes. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 96(3): 369–520.
Ulloa Ulloa, C., S. Álvarez Molina, P.M. Jørgensen and D. Minga. 2009. Guía de 100 plantas silvestres del páramo del Parque Nacional Cajas/Cajas National Park field guide of 100 wild plants of the páramo. Spanish/English edition. Pp. 1–90. ETAPA, Cuenca. [Second edition]
Jørgensen, P. M. 2004. Three new species of Passiflora subgenus Decaloba (Passifloraceae) from Ecuador. Nord. J. Bot. 23(1): 11–19.
Jørgensen, P.M. and M. Weigend. 2004. Passiflora inca a New Species of Passifloraceae from Peru and Bolivia. Novon 14(1): 79-83.
Pitman, N.C.A and P.M. Jørgensen. 2002. Estimating the Size of the World's Threatened Flora. Science 298: 989.
Adaptations of flowering plant leaves growing in stressed habitats
Microtechniques, Microscopy, Photography
Field guide to the 8000 acre Pere Marquette State Park, Illinois
Plant Anatomy Slide Collections for the Web. Current research is mostly on morphoclines, how plant tissues and structures change along environmental gradients. Over a period many years Dr. Keating has accumulated a collection of approximately 16,000 microscope slides illustrating anatomical structures in Araceae, Onagraceae, Gesneriaceae, Cochlospermaceae, Flacourtiaceae, Lauraceae, Salicaceae, Solanaceae, and other families. In an effort to make images from slide collections accessible to the scientific community, images from this collection will be placed online in a searchable database linked to the Tropicos database of plant information. Slides will be imaged using a Nikon Coolscope II all-digital microscope. There is an opening for at least one student to work on the organization, imaging, and cataloging of this fine collection. Students will also work on plant structure, anatomy techniques, microscopy, data handling, and posting the images on Tropicos. Publications can be prepared using some of this material, for example a comparison of cell layer thickness in leaves of Gesneriaceae epiphytes and vines. Additional anatomy projects are available in correlating Salix leaf anatomy with environmental gradients. Students will prepare fresh slide material and use Image-J to calculate cell area
Cusimano, N., Bogner, J., Mayo, S. J, Boyce, P. C.,Wong, S. Y., Hesse, M., Hetterscheid, W. L. A., Keating, R. C., and French, J. C. 2011. Relationships within Araceae: comparison of morphological patterns with molecular phylogenies. Amer. J. Botany 98: 654-668.
Keating, R. C. 2011. Colorado’s Spanish Peaks Region. An Exploration Guide to History, Natural History, Trails and Drives. Missouri Botanical Garden Press. St. Louis. 350 pp.
Keating, R. C. 2004. Systematic occurrence of raphide crystals in Araceae, Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 91: 495-504.
Keating, R. C. 2004. Vegetative anatomical data and its relation to a revised classification of the genera of Araceae. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 91: 485-494.
Gordon, A., and Keating R. C. 2001. Light microscopy and determination of Eryngium yuccifolium Michaux leaf material in twined slippers from Salts Cave, KY. J. Archeol. Sci. 28: 55-60.
Keating, R. C. 2000. Anatomy of the young vegetative shoot of Takhtajania perrieri (Winteraceae). Ann. Missouri Bot Gard. 87: 335-346.
Flora of Bolivia
Documenting the Plants Collected by Early Explorers of Western North America and Northern Mexico in the MBG Herbarium. James Solomon is Curator of the Herbarium and oversees a staff of 30 full-time project managers, herbarium assistants, plant mounters, specimen filers, specimen digitizers, in addition to working on Cactaceae and Vitaceae. The herbarium currently contains over 6.2 million sheets – one of the largest such collections in the world, and contains significant holdings of North American material, including type specimens from the early period of western North American plant exploration. Working from St. Louis at MBG, George Engelmann organized some of the earliest botanical explorations into the American West and Northern Mexico. Engelmann’s private herbarium of approximately 98,000 specimens was given to MBG after his death in 1884. Within his herbarium there are a significant number of specimens collected by Engelmann’s associates during expeditions west of the Mississippi River, for example: August Fendler, Josiah Gregg, Friedrich Wislizenus, and Charles Wright. A student can choose one of these collectors as the focus of their project. They will study archival materials and published literature on the person’s collecting activities, locate the collector's specimens in the herbarium collection using Tropicos and personal searches, verify identification, amplify locality data from archival and literature sources, work with MBG staff to digitally image the specimens, and help produce a summary and online electronic catalog. The student will use historical records and literature, handle and manage herbarium specimens, receive exposure to vascular plant taxonomy and nomenclature, data entry and digital imaging procedures.
Andean Flora (phytogeography, floristics)
Neotropical Berberidaceae, Andean Melastomataceae
Flora Mesoamericana (co-editor)
1.) Plants from the Andes. The Andes mountains are one of the most diverse regions of the world. They are still largely unexplored and new species continue to be discovered. Carmen Ulloa has conducted fieldwork for over two decades in the páramos (vegetation above tree line) and Andean forests of Ecuador. Working with colleagues at Ecuadorian institutions, they have generated checklists, field guides, described species new to science, Red Data books, flora accounts. Ulloa is looking for undergraduates to participate in producing interactive keys of Andean plants. Students will become familiar with Andean biogeography, review relevant taxonomic literature, examine recent collections from Ecuador, and learn to identify specimens using keys and herbarium collections; they will use these tools in preparing online keys to identification. Students will assist Ulloa with the technical description, preparation of distribution maps and images.
2.) Seed and trichome Variation in Melastomataceae. Ulloa is also looking for an undergraduate to conduct a scanning electron microscope survey of seed and trichome characters in the large tropical plant family Melastomataceae. Minute leaf characters and seed structures will be examined with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Carmen Ulloa is a member of an international collaborative network to produce and updated lists of species in the Melastomataceae.
Ulloa Ulloa, C., S. Álvarez Molina, P.M. Jørgensen and D. Minga. 2009. Guía de 100 plantas silvestres del páramo del Parque Nacional Cajas/Cajas National Park field guide of 100 wild plants of the páramo. Spanish/English edition. Pp. 1–90. ETAPA, Cuenca. [Second edition]
Ulloa Ulloa, C. & J. Homeier. 2008. Meriania franciscana (Melastomataceae), una especie nueva de los Andes de Ecuador. Anales Jard. Bot. Madrid 65(2): 383-387.
Ulloa Ulloa, C. & S. Achá. 2010. Meriania horrida (Melastomataceae), una especie nueva de Bolivia. Novon 20: 371-375.
Sklenář, P., J. L. Luteyn, C. Ulloa Ulloa, P. M. Jørgensen and M. O. Dillon. 2005. Flora genérica de los páramos - Guía ilustrada de las plantas vasculares. Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden 92. 520 Pp.
Aguilar, Z., C. Ulloa and P. Hidalgo, 2009. Guía de las Plantas Útiles de Zuleta, Ecuador. Proyecto de Manejo y Aprovechamiento Sustentable de Alpacas en los Paramos de Zuleta. PPA-Ecociencia, Quito. 99pp.
Ethnobotany and Economic Botany
Native Crop Production
Native Seed Research
Native American Ethnobotany
Native Plant Research
Natural Products Research
American Indian Ethnobotany in the Prairie Bioregion of South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska. Karen Walker is the Native American Ethnobotany Program Manager at the William L. Brown Center and works on a program developed in collaboration with the Lakota and Dakota Sioux People of South and North Dakota to explore the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of that region. The Lakota and Dakota People have accumulated knowledge as well as skills in using plants that grow around them for food, medicine, dyes, and ceremonies, transmitted largely through oral traditions. With the advance of technology there is a potential for the TEK of the Lakota and Dakota People to become irrelevant or even nonexistent. Fortunately, many Lakota and Dakota People are taking action to ensure that the next generations do not lose their valuable heritage. REU students will participate in an ongoing research project to document the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Dakota and Lakota People on two reservations: the Crow Creek Indian Reservation and Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Students will be taught interviewing and floristic methodologies as they work with Karen Walker to conduct interviews with Tribal Elders who have a lifetime of knowledge and expertise. To conclude the interview process, the students and Karen will go with selected elders to collect and voucher the plants discussed during interviews, as well as document the process of plant collecting and harvest management techniques. The students will spend 3-4 weeks at the Missouri Botanical Garden analyzing their interview data, processing herbarium specimens and learning general herbarium skills and techniques. Native American students are especially encouraged to apply.
Bussmann, R.W., D. Sharon, M. Castro, R. Cardenas, G. Chait, S. Regalado, C.R. Del Toro, G. Malca, A.F. Perez, A. Glenn, K. Meyer, A. Rothrock, and A. Townesmith. 2009. Phyto-Chemical Analysis of Peruvian Medicinal Plants. Arnaldoa 16(1):105–110.
Stahnke A., M. Hayes, K.Meyer, K. Witt, J. Weideman, A.P. Fernando, R. Burrows, and R.N. Reese. 2008. Prairie turnip Pediomelum esculentum (Pursh) Rydb. historical and modern use, propagation, and management of a new crop. Native Plants Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, Spring 2008, pp. 46–58.