Dust Project Update: UMN Edition

This semester at school (University of Minnesota Twin Cities), I have been continuing the Dust Project I was working on over the summer. From the work this summer, I had collected 64 heads of Echinacea angustifolia that were then brought down to the Twin Cities for me to continue working on. Just recently, I finished cleaning them (many lovely mornings were spent on the St. Paul Campus, I was lucky enough to have a window in front of the counter I was working at). While it felt a little weird to see the flowers after hiking through a blizzard, it was exciting to see a little bit of the results from this summer’s hard work. There was one head that decided to split down the middle, I found that intriguing. It made me wonder whether something was living in it at one point, or if something else caused it to divide! Currently the heads are being mailed down to CBG to get x-rayed, then I will start the process of counting the full achenes to see if the dust made a difference in its reproductive success.

You can view past updates about Dust HERE.

2022 Update: Dust experiment

In summer 2021, Team Dust began a project to look at the effect of dust on reproduction of Echinacea. They randomly assigned treatments of ‘dust’ or ‘no dust’ to 41 heads in ExPt2. Many heads were eaten by ground squirrels, but they harvested the 18 survivors, and Amy Waananen x-rayed the achenes from these heads in March 2022 to evaluate seed set.

This summer, Emma Reineke took the lead on the project, assisted by Kennedy Porter. They applied dust treatments to 64 Echinacea heads at a prairie remnant, Nice Island. They also conducted an observational study using dust traps to measure dust levels at varying distances from unpaved roads. Learn more in Team Dust’s summer update. In late summer, the team harvested the 64 heads, and Amy now has them at UMN. Emma recently received UROP (undergraduate research opportunities program) funding to continue research on the dust project during spring semester.

  • Start year: 2021
  • Location: ExPt2 and Nice Island
  • Overlaps with: None
  • Data collected:
    • Relative amounts of dust levels along unpaved roads at Aanenson and Riley
    • Datasheets are located at ~Dropbox\teamEchinacea2022\emmaReineke\Dust 2022
  • Samples or specimens collected:
    • We collected 64 heads, which are currently in the R. Shaw Lab in the Ecology building at UMN.
    • The dust traps and dusty styles are also at UMN.
  • Products: Amy presented Team Dust’s work at The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) conference in February 2022.

You can read past flog entries about the dust experiment here.

Staying Dusty – Team Dust 2022 Update

Over the course of this summer, the dust project has continued! Team Dust is now on its second year of studying the effects of dust deposition on Echinacea angustifolia’s seed set, through both an experimental study (to determine if dust deposition affects seed set) and an observational study (to determine the amount of dust traveling off of unpaved roads). Now that we are over half way done with the field season, below is a brief update of what has been done so far this summer, and what is still yet to come.

Experimental Study

This summer we have 64 Echinacea heads included in the experimental study, located at the prairie remnant Nice Island. Of these 64 heads, half of them were randomly selected to receive dust treatments while the other half receive no dust. Twice a week I venture out to these heads to give the “dusty” heads their dust while the others receive none. All of these heads are located at a site where little to no dust comes in naturally. Once these heads are ready to be harvested, they will be run under an x-ray to determine their seed set. Currently we have the x-rays from last year’s heads, but not all of them have been analyzed so there is no data to report as of now.

Observational Study

The observational part of this project is about to begin! This past week, Kennedy and I assembled the dust traps (pictured below) that we are going to use to measure dust levels at varying distances from unpaved roads. We then placed these traps at two different remnants (pictured below). Over the course of the next two weeks, these dust traps will be loaded in order to collect data. The second part of the observational study, new to Team Dust as of 2022, is collecting styles from flowering Echinacea heads alongside unpaved roads. Kennedy and I managed to collect some styles on Thursday, which went well! Currently these styles are sitting in the freezer, but they will soon be analyzed under a microscope to look for dust covering them.

Overall, lots has already been done this summer, but there is still plenty left to do!

Amy visits CBG!

On Friday, grad student Amy W. paid a visit to the lab at the Chicago Botanic Garden to x-ray Echinacea achenes for several of her projects including the Dust Project, interremnant crosses, and gene flow experiments. We’re thrilled to have a functional x-ray machine once again. Amy noticed lots of variation in her samples, so we’re excited to learn about seed set for these experiments!

Team Echinacea at TPE

On 18 February 2022, Amy, Jared, Mia, and Alex presented at the online Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) conference. Posters were available online during the conference (February 15-19, 2022), and conference attendees could ask questions via the chat on the 18th. Check out the posters below!

2021 Update: Dust experiment

In summer 2021, we began a project to look at the effect of dust on reproduction of Echinacea. We randomly assigned treatments of ‘dust’ or ‘no dust’ to 41 heads in ExPt2 that were on first or second-day of flowering at the onset of our treatments. For ‘dust’ plants, we applied ~1g dust with a sifter to the top of each head at least once every three days until the heads were no longer flowering. Team Dust consisted of Emma, Alex, Kennedy, Mia, and I. We harvested the treatment heads at the end of the season. Unfortunately, we were only able to harvest 18 seedheads due to rodent herbivory. We will evaluate their seed set in Winter 2022.

  • Start year: 2021
  • Location: ExPt2
  • Overlaps with: None
  • Data collected: We collected style persistence data from treatment seedheads. Data has been double-entered and verified and is located in Dropbox/teamEchinacea2021/teamDust/p2DustTreatments_de.csv
  • Samples or specimens collected: We collected 18 seedheads, which are currently in the R. Shaw Lab in the Ecology building at UMN.
  • Products: None yet!

You can read more about the dust experiment in flog entries from summer 2021.