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Abstract Detail

Evolutionary insights from studies of geographic variation: Establishing a baseline and looking ahead to future change

Soper Gorden , Nicole L [1], Etterson, Julie R [2], Winkler, Katharine [1], Jahnke, Matthew [1], Marshall, Elizabeth [1].

Project Baseline:  A long-term genome bank and a resource for studying geographic variation over time.

Project Baseline is an initiative to create a long-term research-grade genome bank for the study of plant ecology and evolution.  One of our main goals is to collect seeds over a gradient of geographic and environmental variables.  Since the seeds will be preserved for at least 50 years, the Project Baseline seedbank is an invaluable resource for studying genetic variation in plant populations across geographic gradients over time.  This long-term approach to providing a “baseline” of genetic data for plant studies has many powerful applications.  For example, future studies can use “resurrection ecology” to grow seedbank-preserved seeds alongside newly-collected seeds from the same locations to look for changes in genetic or phenotypic traits in response to climate change, invasive species, land use change, or other landscape-level processes across a geographic gradient.  While seeds are still being collected, our travels across the US have allowed us to explore several projects relating to latitude.  For example, while several studies have looked at the distribution of seed size among plant species across a latitudinal gradient, few researchers have tested patterns of seed size among populations within species over geographic gradients.  We found an interaction between longitude and latitude on Schizachyrium scoparium seed mass, such that seed mass and latitude were negatively correlated in the Midwest and positively correlated in the east.  In a second study focused on Linum sulcatum, we found that plants from lower latitudes were taller with larger flowers.  While several studies have shown that plants often grow larger in southern latitudes due to increased resource availability, these differences in Linum were genetically based instead of environmentally driven.  In a third study, we found that Helianthus annuus has larger flowers at higher latitudes, the exact opposite of what was seen in Linum and in many other species.  Additionally, contrary to the general pattern of greater leaf herbivory at lower latitudes, H. annuus flowers had a small but significant increase in damage due to florivores at higher latitudes.  Taken together, our results demonstrate that collecting data over a broad geographic range can lead to novel insights not gained through geographically limited studies.  Additionally, since seeds of all species in these studies are included in the Project Baseline seedbank, scientists will have the ability to repeat these studies in the future to see if any traits undergo adaptive or maladaptive evolution in the face of anthropogenic change.

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Related Links:
Project Baseline Website

1 - University Of Minnesota Duluth, Biology, 1035 Kirby Dr, SSB 207, Duluth, MN, 55812, USA
2 - University of Minnesota Duluth, Biology, 1035 Kirby Dr, SSB 207, Duluth, MN, 55812, United States

Geographic variation
flower size
Climate change
Seed size.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY08
Location: Firs North/Boise Centre
Date: Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Time: 11:15 AM
Number: SY08008
Abstract ID:694
Candidate for Awards:None

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