Effects of Longhorned Milkweed Beetle Root Feeding on Re-sprouting in Common Milkweed

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is an essential source of food for monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) as caterpillars, and there are concerns about the decrease in the monarch butterfly population. The decline in monarchs has been linked to a decline in common milkweed. Common milkweed plants are also where the longhorned milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) spends its larval and adult stages. The larvae eat the roots, and the adults feed on the leaves. This feeding means that the beetles affect multiple parts of the plant throughout their life cycle, suggesting that the beetle could have a greater impact on milkweed than the monarch does. However, not much is known about the impact of the beetle’s feeding on common milkweed. My research project aims to fill this gap.

[Read more…]

Summer’s End and the Way Forward

I’m back on campus now, and it feels like a whole new world since I left at the end of summer research just a few weeks ago. The terrace is bustling, neon-shirted OAs are leading parades of new students around, and I don’t have nearly unlimited time to work on my research any more. And how much more there is to do! Although I was able to collect all my leaf samples for the herbivory project this summer, I now have to extract and analyze all the cardenolides in them so I can begin to draw conclusions about herbivory impact on clonal systems of common milkweed. I’m so excited to have concrete data to work with, but it’s definitely going to be a lot tougher to get the work done during the school year when I have so many time commitments! In addition to the herbivory project, we finally have all of our data for the microsatellite project. We are now working on statistical analyses for these data, and preparing the manuscript that they will be presented in! This summer was an incredible experience and look into what life beyond college can be like. I have loved devoting myself to my research and collaborating with my labmates.

The Grand Finale of Summer Milkweed Pollination Research

To bring the summer to its natural conclusion, myself and my fellow technician Angelica set out to process all of the data we collected.  With only three weeks to process and analyze a month an a half of data collection, we really had our work cut out for us.  My job was to continue watching the videos we had taken and start scanning the data sheets and inputting the information on a spread sheet.  Angelica was in charge of image analysis, looking at percent leaf damage for the herbivory blocks.

[Read more…]

The Munching: Experimental procedures and data analysis

smiley punches

[Read more…]

Analysis of Milkweed Genotyping

With just a few individuals left to send off as redos, most of the focus on the milkweed project has moved towards analysis. Analysis is inherently tricky because there is a lot of trial and error. There are essentially a few options for analysis. You can use someone else’s software, you can modify someone else’s to fit your needs, OR you can make your own. The last one is obviously extremely time intensive, so our hope was to find a software we could use to fit our needs.

[Read more…]