Week 8 update

The main goal for last week was to wrap up the petal spot project. Everything needed to be completed and finalized by Wednesday. I worked with CiCi to take a high quality developmental series for the final poster.

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Week 7 update

This week in lab I continued to work on the hybrid milkweed project. The goal of the project is to see whether two species of milkweed are hybridizing and if so, how long hybridization has been occurring. A critical way of determining the extent to which the two species have been hybridizing is to analyze DNA sequences of milkweed samples from the William and Mary herbarium. Last week I worked on collecting those samples and preforming a DNA extraction on them to see how much DNA we could gain from the herbarium samples. One obstacle to retrieving DNA from the herbarium samples is that since the samples are so old, much of the DNA is corrupted and degraded, so it is difficult to learn enough from the DNA to determine if hybridization has occurred. Last week I preformed an extraction on two herbarium samples as well as two fresh milkweed samples, however, the extraction did not work due to one of the buffers being prepared incorrectly. I then repeated the procedure with correct buffers. This procedure used 1 inch squares of tissue and yielded a fairly good amount of DNA. The DNA yield for the fresh samples was very high and was usable for one of the herbarium samples. I also preformed another extraction of 1 cm squares of tissue to see if that would be enough tissue to yield helpful results and I am still waiting on the results from that extraction.

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Week 6 update

Last week in lab I worked more on the hybrid Mimulus project. Our goal is to see if hybridization has occurred between Mimulus exaltata and Mimulus syriciaIn order to determine if hybridization has occured, we need to isolate the DNA from a sample tissue and send it to be sequenced. Then we can compare the DNA sequences of different Mimulus plants that were identified as either exaltata or syricia and see whether they were in actuality pure exaltata or syricia or if there were a hybrid of the two misclassified as one or the other. We are trying to use samples of Mimulus collected over the last 100 years from the William and Mary herbarium and extract and analyze the herbarium samples to see how long ago hybridization occurred. In addition to using William and Mary herbarium samples, we are analyzing digital images of herbaria samples from other herbarium collections using imageJ to record different traits. We will then analyze the trait data to infer whether or not hybridization occurred.

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Week 5 update

This week in lab I met up with some of my peers working on the petal spot project. We discussed our goals for the project and updated each other on how everything was going. In four week from that point, July 27th, there is a botany conference that our head of the team is going to attend. She will be giving a lightening talk, a conceptual, quick talk about three minutes long, detailing the overall goals and progress of our project and will create a poster documenting our methods, results, and progress. In order to give her time to prepare for the talk, we need to reach a certain point in our data collecting by July 22nd, which is two weeks from now. By that point we need to image 30 more mature F2s (15 per week), veins and spots, and create four more developmental series (two per week), veins and spots. This is a lot! So last week I started working on those tasks. All my other projects have kind of been put on hold to make time for working on this. I finished the developmental series I has started last week and imaged 11 mature F2s.

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Week 4 update

This week in lab I completed a developmental series for an F2 mimulus plant. The purpose of creating the developmental series is to show how petal spots form on a flower as it develops in the bud. In order to create the developmental series I take several flowers and buds at different stages of development from one plant and dissect them. I take the same parts of the flower from each bud and then image it under a powerful microscope, including a ruler in the image so all the images can be compared to scale. I take the center petal, both top side petals, and the throat from each flower. I use a little bit of PBC glycerol to help the petal lay flat on a microscope slide and then image it, capturing the spots on the petal. After each part is images, I put the petal into a little jar with 100% ethanol. This ethanol enters the petal through the veins and displaces the natural dye that causes the pigment on the petal. The result causes the petal to become transparent, allowing the veins to be visible. The next step in the developmental series is to image the cleared petals and compare the spot images to the vein placement, but that is what I will work on this week.

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