2023 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Sven Buerki


Climate change is driving ever increasing ecological stresses on native plant communities. Furthering our understanding of how plants, particularly keystone species of important ecosystems, deal with these stresses will be essential for the success of conservation and restoration efforts Artemisia tridentate is a keystone species of western North America and has experience sharp population declines in recent decades due to human activity. During the late winter and early spring months, A. tridentate grows large ephemeral leaves that provide more surface area for light capture and photosynthesis while resources are abundant. Then, during the onset of drought stress during the summer months, the ephemeral leaves will drop. We hypothesize that the timing of ephemeral leaf dropping is correlated to important water use efficiency traits and are under genomic control. To test these hypotheses, plants of a population of A. tridentate near Marsing, ID were tracked and phenotyped from late spring though summer. Early and late ephemeral leaf dropping individuals then had their genomes sequenced for genetic association tests. We find that there are statistically significant differences for leaf phenotypes among individuals, suggesting that the water use efficiency will vary within the population. Genetic tests are on-going to determine if these traits are genetically determined.