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Evolution of UV Tolerance in Plants



Evolution of UV Tolerance in Plants

My project tested for variation in tolerance to UV exposure among populations of the weedy annual plant Arabidopsis thaliana. If UV levels rise, only those plants that have a genetic composition that provides tolerance to increased UV will survive and reproduce. To determine if genetic variation for UV tolerance is present in this plant, I examined the responses of A. thaliana plants from populations distributed along a latitudinal gradient across Europe to a burst of UV radiation. Elevated UV radiation may be an unusual event for these plants, but I tested their UV responses in combination with a more typical environmental cue (cold). Following their treatments, I kept track of the timing of important life stages: number of days to appearance of flowering stalk (bolting), number of days to opening first flower, lifespan and total number of fruits. I found that UV treatments affected important life stages, but those effects were dependent on genetic composition and the cold treatment. Some populations were completely unaffected by UV. This means that there is genetic variation among current plant populations for tolerance to UV, but there were strong interactions between elevated UV and environments these plants have always and will continue to experience.

Celebration of Scholarship Westbrook Award


Biology & Microbiology


Dr. Lisa Dorn
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by Reinke, Heidi last modified Jun 07, 2013 09:32 AM