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Greg Schiller

School: 

Ramon Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts

Grade Level: 

High School

Teaching Position: 

AP Bio, AP Psych, Anatomy and Physiology, Biology

Supervisor: 

Susan Mazer

Department: 

EEMB

Mentor: 

Susan Mazer

Research Project Year: 

2019

Research Project Title: 

Evolution and Fitness in Nemophila Menziesii

Research Project Description: 

I worked in Dr Susan Mazer's Greenhouse, Alpine room, and Botany Lab in her NSF funded research on adaptation of plants (specifically Nemophila menziessi) to changing environments and intensifying droughts. I worked with amazing undergrad students and lab managers and Dr. Mazer on four different populations of Nemophila from Angelo Coast, Bodega Bay, Blue Oak, and Hastings Ranch. The plants' seeds had been collected (as well as some of the plants themselves) and already been cultivated and raised into mature flowering adults. In the greenhouse we worked on several cohorts of plants - emasculating them, pollinating them, collecting fruit sets, collecting data, opening up fruits to do seed counts, taking the mass of seeds and skeletal remains of plants and more. Additionally I worked with the students & professor to attempt to mediate several pests in the greenhouse-- including aphids and several species of fungi. I entered the collected data into an excel file that was then utilized in JMP to analyze the data and create graphs and tables that were later utilized in my presentation and in my project. What we determined is that there is variation in fruit set (that is pollinated flowers that become fruiting bodies that contain developing seeds) from the four different populations -- even though they were all grown under similar controlled environments in the greenhouse. These differences in fruit set production therefore must be genetic in origin. We also performed an experiment (which I was a part of) where we examined three different conditions of the plants -- 1) emasculated flowers that not hand pollinated, 2) fully intact flowers that were not hand pollinated, and 3) emasculated flowers that were hand pollinated. It was expected that there would be a difference in their fruit sets -- and YES! we found it to be true that the emasculated not hand pollinated had the lowest fruit set (# fruits / # pollinations of that plant), the intact not hand pollinated plants had the 2nd lowest fruit set, and the emasculated, hand pollinated flowers had the highest fruit set (closest to 1). Ongoing work on whether or not fruit set contributes to fitness in the wild of these four populations has yet to be determined and whether fruit set is correlated to number of seeds produced and whether fruit set and seed survivability in the wild are correlated has yet to be determined. 

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