Hot Student Papers

Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the early Permian of Prince Edward Island

16 Dec 2015 - 9:09am
artist's drawing of a Dimetrodon

Nothing brings on the holidays like a blood-thirsty extinct Dimetrodon in Canada … or is it! Recent PhD graduate Dr. Kirstin Brink published “Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the early Permian of Prince Edward Island” in Can. J. Earth Sci.. This paper redescribes an historic Canadian fossil collected in 1845 on PEI, Bathygnathus borealis. Although originally thought to be a dinosaur, the fossil is actually a sphenacodontid, which is on the lineage leading towards mammals. Using CT scan data and new phylogenetic analyses, this study suggests that the fossil from PEI is in fact a species of Dimetrodon.

Can genetically based clines in plant defence explain greater herbivory at higher latitudes?

1 Dec 2015 - 8:22am
insect on an evening primrose

If you plan to live in the South make sure you are well defended! No, I’m not talking about the Republican Presidential Nomination, but the latest findings by PhD student Daniel Anstett (Johnson Lab) and ROP299 student Nabanita Nawar. Daniel and co. just published “Can genetically based clines in plant defence explain greater herbivory at higher latitudes?” in Ecology Letters. In a field experiment at KSR, Daniel planted out genotypes from 137 populations collected from the entire native range of common evening primrose. Over the course of two years he studied the insects that attacked these plants and measured a variety of chemical defences and additional plant traits involved in defence.

Fifty years of co-evolution and beyond: integrating co-evolution from molecules to species

16 Nov 2015 - 8:40am
diagram showing coevolution at multiple levels of biological organization

The bees, butterflies and pesky bugs. The fungi, flowers, forests and fields full of plant diversity. 50 years ago Paul Ehrlich and Peter Raven proposed that coevolution – reciprocal natural selection between species – gave rise to much of this biological diversity we see and take for granted. PDF Dr. Diego Carmona and PhD student Connor Fitzpatrick (Johnson Lab) take stock of what we have learned and where we should be going in their article “Fifty years of co-evolution and beyond: integrating co-evolution from molecules to species” in Molecular Ecology.  Diego and Connor argue that despite 50 years of research, we still don’t understand how common coevolution is in nature, and whether it involves symmetrical or asymmetrical coevolution.

Zeaxanthin-independent energy quenching and alternative electron sinks cause a decoupling of the relationship between the photochemical reflectance index (PRI) and photosynthesis in an evergreen conifer during spring

2 Nov 2015 - 12:41pm
conifer

Shhhh! There are spies among us and they are watching ... the secret lives of conifers. A new blockbuster paper by Emmanuelle Fréchette, Chris Wong, Laura Junker and Christine Chang (Ensminger Lab) was just published in Journal of Experimental Botany.  In this paper they examine the invisible lives of the mighty white pine. Unlike deciduous trees, the phenology of photosynthesis in evergreen conifers is invisible to the naked eye, which complicates understanding the effects of global change on the phenology of coniferous forests.

Isolation and characterization of a virus infecting the freshwater algae Chrysochromulina parva

19 Oct 2015 - 8:26am
Chrysochromulina parva infected by a virus

How well do we know the microbial communities around us? Apparently not that well considering that aquatic virologists are still discovering what is out there. This was demonstrated in the most recent publication by former undergrad Samia Mirz and current PhD student Mike Staniewski (Short Lab) in their paper “Isolation and characterization of a virus infecting the freshwater algae Chrysochromulina parva” published in Virology. In their article they describe the isolation and characterization of newly discovered virus from Lake Ontario.

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