Week 7: X-ray Time

This week I continued to make progress on cleaning and scanning for the lilium project (Figure 2). All the pods have been cleaned and we have established a scanning protocol for lilium pods. These protocols allow for others to replicate our methods in future projects with lilies.

Jared and I conducted a couple trials with x-raying the lilium seeds. We will experiment with adjusting the settings on the x-ray and after effects for the images. Further experimentation is necessary to generate high quality x-ray scans in order to classify the seeds. In the x-ray images, the seeds that contain fertilized embryos will appear bright white (Figure 1). We use this to classify which seeds contain fertilized embryos and which ones are empty. The contrast of appearance in the x-ray is due to the increase in density of the fertilized embryos.

Week 6: Scanning Wood Lily

This week I was able to clearly define the research question for the L. philadelphicum project. My research question is focused on investigating pollination and reproduction success in wood lily. Specifically, does seed set increase with the proximity of neighboring flowers. If lilies have closer proximity to neighboring flowers, then the proportion of fertilized seeds will increase as well. We will be able to test our hypothesis with the collected seed data and recorded GPS location of each individual plant. Additionally, I made progress on cleaning lilium seeds and started writing the scanning protocol. We found that using an ionizing bar will help prevent static which causes the seeds to be difficult to handle (See Fig 1). 

Furthermore, I was able to create a graph representing the progress of the lilium project with the help of Alex (Fig 3). Similarly, to echinacea, the lilium project will also go through the main steps of cleaning, scanning, counting and x-raying. This graph allows us to visualize the progress being made in the ACE protocol for L. philadelphicum. Stay tuned for next week while we experiment with methods in counting and x-raying lilium seeds!

Week 3: All About Wood Lily

This week, I have decided on my independent project for the rest of my internship! I will be working with Lilium philadelphicum, wood lily and investigating questions surrounding its pollination and reproduction. I felt more informed on the past research by the Echinacea Project after hearing presentations from Stuart and Jared. Jared further taught me the benefits of fire on prairie ecosystems. Prairie plants are fire dependent and thrive after burns. This is due to the natural landscape and indigenous traditions. It was very interesting to learn about the natural history of our region and how plants grew before impacts of modernization. Results from past research in the lab has shown benefits from prescribed burns on the reproduction of echinacea. This applied conservation method could potentially benefit other fire dependent prairie plants as well! I hope to observe patterns and variation of pollination success in L. philadelphicum. I am currently developing a hypothesis for this project. Later on I will analyze the data set collected by Jared over the summer. 

We have already completed inventory of the data set and started on the cleaning process of L. philadelphicum. The fruits of L. philadelphicum can be seen in the picture below. It contains many seeds, some of which are large and dark, others small and lighter in color. We hope to find interesting information through the variation of these seeds. Stay tuned for next week, as I will be working on developing the protocol for cleaning, scanning and counting these seeds.

2021 Update: Lilium fire and flowering

In summer 2021, Team Echinacea searched for and mapped 708 flowering Prairie lily (Lilium philadelphicum) plants across 6 patches of remnant prairie in our study area in western Minnesota. Unlike many prairie species that flower vigorously after fire, these self-incompatible lilies flower two years after dormant season fires. We are investigating how fire influences lily flowering density and reproduction. We harvested seed pods from 80 individuals across 5 patches to quantify seed set.

  • Start year: 2021
  • Location: Remnant patches of prairie in and around Solem Township, MN
  • Overlaps with: NA
  • Data collected: demographic data: ~aiisummer2021/otherSpp/Lilium_philadelphicum/output/lilium2021Data.csv
  • Samples or specimens collected: Pods/seed collected during summer 2021 currently reside in Jared’s office. These seeds need to be inventoried, cleaned, counted, and scored for seed set.
  • Products: Stay tuned!

You can read more about the Lilium fire and flowering project, as well as links to prior flog entries about this experiment, on the background page for this experiment.

The end of summer

As summer’s vibrant greens give way to fall’s golden glow, Team Echinacea remains hard at work in western MN. A skeleton crew is diligently wrapping up the field season. Our most important task is harvesting seed from study species so that we can quantify fire effects on plant reproduction in remnant prairies. Here is a brief update on progress for our focal species:

Echinacea angustifolia harvest: 383/383 plants harvested

Andropogon gerardii harvest: 370/370 plots measured and harvested

Liatris aspera harvest: 202/231 plants harvested

Lilium philadelphicum harvest: 79/80 plants harvested

Asclepias viridiflora: all plants harvested (~30, Jared forgot to check harvest data sheet…)

In addition to wrapping up the harvest, we are beginning to make preparations for fall burns and getting materials organized to implement a seed addition experiment designed to assess fire effects on seedling emergence and survival.