Hot Student Papers

Sensitivity of cold acclimation to elevated autumn temperature in field-grown Pinus strobus seedlings

2 Jun 2015 - 11:27am
close up of white pine branch and needles

Will overwintering evergreen conifers be negatively impacted by future warm climates? PhD student Christine Chang (Ensminger Lab) explores this question in “Sensitivity of cold acclimation to elevated autumn temperature in field-grown Pinus strobus seedlings”, published in Frontiers in Plant Science. She simulated autumn temperatures predicted for 2050, then recorded the progression of autumn cold acclimation in Eastern white pine seedlings. It turns out that white pines don’t take risks and prepare strong drought and freezing defenses in response to early environmental cues, well in advance of any stress. Good news - warming autumns won’t hurt this conifer's ability to survive Canadian winters!

The first record of a nyctiphruretid parareptile from the Early Permian of North America, with a discussion of parareptilian temporal fenestration

20 May 2015 - 9:49am
evolutionary tree showing the relationship between various parareptile skulls

After a 6-1 loss to Canada, this week’s HSP shows that Russia can’t even score a fossil up on us. Mark MacDougall (Reisz Lab) recent published “The first record of a nyctiphruretid parareptile from the Early Permian of North America, with a discussion of parareptilian temporal fenestration” in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. This paper describes a new parareptile from the Early Permian (289 ma) of North America: Abyssomedon williamsi. Prior to Marks’ research the group to which this animal belongs was only known from Russia, therefore this new animal extends the geographic distribution of the group considerably (sorry Russia!), as well as pulling the age of it back into the Early Permian.

Elevated temperature differently affects foliar nitrogen partitioning in seedlings of diverse Douglas fir provenances

28 Apr 2015 - 10:50am
Laura Junker taking samples from a tree seedling

Does Doug like it hot or does Doug like it cold? Ph.D. student Laura Junker (Ensminger Lab) and her collaborators recently asked this question of Douglas Fir trees in her paper “Elevated temperature differently affects foliar nitrogen partitioning in seedlings of diverse Douglas fir provenances” published in Tree Physiology. They compared the effect of elevated air temperature on two interior Douglas-fir provenances and observed that heat stress caused greater nitrogen deficiency in the provenance originating from a mesic environment than the provenance from a drier habitat.

Ecological effects of aphid abundance, genotypic variation, and contemporary evolution in plants

20 Apr 2015 - 11:00am
aphids on leaves

Genes have a long reach. It is long been appreciated that genes direct cellular processes in every living organism. It is less appreciated that genes and their evolution can affect the ecological interactions within entire communities. Graduated PhD student Nash Turley (Johnson Lab) just demonstrated this very thing in his paper: “Ecological effects of aphid abundance, genotypic variation, and contemporary evolution in plants”, published in Oecologia.  Nash examined how different genotypes of the Green Peach Aphid (Myzus persicae-top right image), their rapid evolution and the abundance of aphids together affect the performance and physiology of two plant species.

Fungal endophytes of Festuca rubra increase in frequency following long-term exclusion of rabbits

13 Apr 2015 - 11:12am
James Santangelo (left) and Nash Turley (right)

Plants have lived in close association with fungal symbionts for most of their evolutionary history on land. Some fungi are so tightly associated with plants that they only occur inside plant tissues (endophytes), being passed between generations via seeds. Do these fungi have any functional significance to the plants? Undergraduate student James Santangelo and former PhD student Dr. Nash Turley (Johnson Lab) recently addressed this question in “Fungal endophytes of Festuca rubra increase in frequency following long-term exclusion of rabbits” published in Botany. They tested the hypothesis that fungal endophytes help defend a native grass against herbivores, like rabbits.

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