|Danielle Coogan and Rachel Matthews from Coral Reef High School (Miami-Dade) are learning DNA skills in the FIU-FTBG Plant Molecular Systematics Laboratory located in the Science Village. They are being mentored by FIU-Fairchild Ph.D. candidate Emily Warschefsky (FIU major professor Eric Von Wettberg) and are developing a project centered on molecular phylogenetics of mango (Mangifera spp. (Anacardiaceae)). Image below from left to right: Danielle Coogan, Rachel Matthews, and Emily Warschefsky performing PCR reactions in the molecular lab.|
Prof. Eugenio Santiago-Valentín (Director of the Herbarium of the Jardín Botánico de Puerto Rico and Faculty of the Departamento de Biología de Universidad de Puerto Rico, Campus of Río Piedras, San Juan) is visiting (Sept, 1st - 14th) the Fairchild herbarium and library to perform research on taxonomy and nomenclature of several species from Puerto Rico. Prof. Santiago-Valentín's visit is supported by the Center for Applied Ecology and Conservation of the University of Puerto Rico through a grant from the National Science Foundation. During this research visit Prof. Eugenio Santiago-Valentín is being hosted by FIU-FTBG researcher Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega and the Head of the Fairchild Herbarium Dr. Brett Jestrow. Our gratitude to the Montgomery Botanical Center for providing Prof. Santiago-Valentín with lodging at its guest house. Image below: Prof. Santiago-Valentín looking at some original descriptions of the species that are part of this research. Image below: Dr. Carl Lewis (left) and Prof. Santiago-Valentín (right) during a meeting yo discuss institutional collaborations.
Fairchild researcher and FIU faculty member Eric von Wettberg and his colleagues Doug Cook and Varma Penmetsa at the University of California at Davis were recently awarded an NSF grant for a project entitled: "Deducing the Genomic Footprint and Functional Impact of Chickpea Domestication on Nitrogen Fixation." In this project they aim to understand the dynamics of nitrogen uptake via symbiotic bacteria in the wild progenitors of legume crops and the ways in which human selection has reshaped this potential during domestication. Specifically, they will combine ecology and population genomics with classical molecular genetics and reverse genetic assays to deduce the functional consequences of standing variation in wild populations of Cicer reticulatum and its domesticated counterpart Cicer arietinum (chickpea). They hope to expand our knowledge of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in novel ways, and will contribute to an emerging paradigm in plant biology where the intersection of ecology, genomics and molecular biology empowers the study of gene function in natural and human-built environments. Ultimately this work has the potential to reduce inputs of fertilizer in agricultural systems. This project owes much to the legacy of David Fairchild, as one of its aims is to expand the diversity of crop wild relatives in international breeding collections. von Wettberg will be continuing field work began in Turkey during the summer of 2013 in the coming years through this project.