Biology IROPs

IROP 1 - Spillover of foliar pathogens from the invasive thistle Cirsium arvense to native plants

Objectives and Methodology

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), despite its name, is an invasive species introduced from Europe. Plants in Ontario frequently are attacked by foliar pathogens including the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae, which stunt shoots and causes chlorophyll loss. This is a generalist pathogen known to attack many other species; therefore, it is possible that this pathogen may be spreading from C. arvense to native plants in the same community, a process called spillover. In this project, students will combine field surveys and lab work to document patterns of attack on native plants, and will experimentally assess whether spillover is possible. As opportunities occur, we also may sample natural enemies on other co-occurring invaders.

Description of Student Participation

In the summer portion of this project, students will (1) survey native species co-occurring with C. arvense for signs of infection by P. syringae; (2) collect seeds of native species so that they can be used in a greenhouse experiment over the winter, and (3) will develop methods to culture pathogens and transfer them from infected to uninfected plants. The field component of this project will be based at the Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill, near Newmarket.

List of Skills Required / Instructor Preference & Student Experience

One or more courses in Ecology, and an enthusiasm for field biology. Willingness to work in both the field and the lab is essential. Experience with plants and/or microbial methods would be helpful. It also would be helpful if the student has access to their own transportation.


IROP 2 - Misconceptions and threshold concepts in anatomy and physiology education

Objectives and Methodology

The main goal of this project is to identify common student misconceptions and threshold concepts in anatomy and physiology and develop best teaching practices to amend these misconceptions and re-center teaching approaches around threshold concepts. Particular emphasis will be placed on how physical and chemical principles can be used to clarify misconceptions and thus increase transferability of threshold concepts in anatomy and physiology to other courses in biology.

Description of Student Participation

ROP student will assist in data analysis of data collected in Fall/Winter 2014.

List of Skills Required / Instructor Preference & Student Experience

Literature search and information technology skills; minimum of 80% average in biology courses.