ShaggyMane "My dissertation research project is a systematic study of the fungal class Geoglossomycetes. These fungi are found worldwide and are especially diverse and understudied in New Zealand. In 2013 I received a Dissertation Travel Grant from the Graduate College that allowed me to visit New Zealand to further my research and foster international collaboration. While returning to the field station after a successful day of collecting with New Zealand mycologists near Matawai on the North Island, we noticed an large troop of shaggy mane mushrooms, Coprinus comatus, in a pasture near the road. We brought back over five pounds of younger specimens to add to our dinner that evening. Delicious and beautiful!" - Vince Hustad, PhD 2015 under Andrew Miller.
Plants are exquisitely sensitive to the environment. Therefore, changes now occurring in our atmosphere will profoundly impact future crop productivity and natural ecology. In order to examine these impacts, Plant Biologist Stephen Long and colleagues are analyzing crops grown annually at SoyFACE (Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment), a facility that they established in 2001 where ozone and carbon dioxide are annually adjusted to levels forecast for 50 years hence. Click the picture for more SoyFACE photos, or go here to learn about SoyFACE.
Some plant species have evolved separate male and female sexes, but most have not. The transition to separate sexes is still underway in papaya, offering Plant Biologist Ray Ming and colleagues a unique opportunity to catch this key evolutionary transition in the act. This plot compares DNA in two segments of papaya's X (dark blue bars) and Yh (hermaphrodite, green bars) chromosomes. The diagonal blue lines connect related stretches of DNA still shared by these slowly diverging, incipient sex chromosomes. Click the image for a larger version, or here to read more.
Trees are not randomly distributed within tropical forests, but grow in distinct patterns of density and dispersion. What causes these patterns is a central question in tropical ecology. Plant Biologist Jim Dalling is testing the hypothesis that soil nutrient availability plays a significant role in tree species distribution within Equador's highly biodiverse Yasuni Rainforest. This map combines soil pH data (colors) that Jim's team has collected with topography (lines) across a 50 hectare plot within the forest.
Most plant species can only briefly tolerate flooded or extreme saline conditions. The mangrove, Rhizophora mangle, on the other hand, not only tolerates, but dominates such challenging environments, often to the point of monoculture. Plant Biologist John Cheeseman and colleagues are studying the physiology underlying the peculiar adaptation of this neotropical intertidal species, shown here at one of their research sites as a tangled bank of roots on the fringe of an island off the coast of Belize in Central America.
AtProtoplasts Every protein knows where to go. Plant cells are far better organized than the textbook cartoon view of shoeboxes bulging with a water balloon filled with protein-rich soup. Every protein encoded by the genome carries a genetically specified subcellular destiny. Here, Arabidopsis protoplasts prepared by Ray Zielinski show green fluorescent nuclei due to a labeled protein that Ray specifically targeted there. Chloroplasts naturally fluoresce red. Mouse over the image for a Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) version.
A protein's amino acid sequence doesn't always reveal its function or subcellular location. So when Steven Huber's group wanted to learn more about the SUS1 subunit of maize sucrose synthase, they compared its sequence with those of other proteins and found that SUS1 contains a segment resembling part of the human pleckstrin protein. Here they've diagrammed the structure of SUS1, showing the pleckstrin-like segment in bold lines. Biochemical tests subsequently confirmed that this region gives SUS1 functions similar to those of pleckstrin. Read more here.
Terrestrial ecosystem models are essential tools for understanding the carbon cycle and global climate change. Most model assessments occur in the time domain, however ecosystem dynamics respond to drivers at multiple timescales. Spectral methods, such as wavelet analyses, allowed Michael Dietze to identify the dominant timescales of model error (red) as a function of time and timescale for the various ecosystem models in the North American Carbon Program's synthesis activities.
Biofuels such as Miscanthus hold great promise for reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Researchers have yet to agree, however, on what biofuels' contribution to greenhouse gases (GHG) will be. That's because a thorough biofuel Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is complex, as Sarah Davis’s diagram of the biofuel production chain shows here. Properly designed and parameterized models of biofuel ecology are needed to better inform researchers, policymakers and the general public, and Sarah’s work aims to meet this need. Read more here.