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Emma and Mikaela Are on the Case

So it begins! Two new externs have joined Team Echinacea from Carleton College. We (Mikaela and Emma) will be here every day for the next three weeks, and are excited to discover new revelations for the Asynchrony, Isolation and Incompatibility experiment.

So far, most of what we’ve discovered is that cleaning Echinacea seed heads is tedious. Two days in, we have cleaned 36 seed heads; scanning them was a nice relief from the monotony. We think we could get through all 110 by the end of this week.

Although yesterday was quiet, there was a little bit of commotion: Mikaela’s second seed head had a rare deformity. Many of the achenes were uninformative. This means they were aborted part of the way through formation, so it cannot be determined whether they were fertilized. After minutes of puzzled deliberation, Stuart, Amy and Scott decided to keep them in the sample.

Four uninformative achenes compared to one normal, mid-size achene. Because of their immaturity, the florets are still firmly attached.

Four uninformative achenes compared to one normal, small-to-mid-size achene. Because of their immaturity, the florets are still firmly attached.

In contrast to yesterday, today there were quite a few volunteers and a couple of students who we got to meet. It was nice to talk to other people who were involved in and excited about this project. We also got to hear about other experiments going on in the lab besides our own.

Today’s seed cleaning also presented an exciting moment: just moments after Amy told us about last year’s larval discoveries, we each found a live larva residing in the heads we were cleaning. We’re thinking about raising these mystery larva so we can finally learn just what they are. Hopefully we’ll have more success than last year’s effort!

Our two larva. Emma's is the tiny brown one on the right, and Mikaela's is the pink one hanging out on a makeshift habitat of chaff.

Our two larva. Emma’s is the tiny brown one on the right, and Mikaela’s is the pink one hanging out on a makeshift habitat of chaff.

We are grateful for this opportunity to contribute to and learn from the project, and are looking forward to the next three weeks!

Thanks for the warm welcome,

Mikaela and Emma

 

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