Research News June 2010

McDade elected chair of the Botanical Society of America Advisory Council

Lucinda McDade, Judith B. Friend Director of Research at RSABG and professor and chair of CGU’s Botany Department, has been elected to a three-year term as the first-ever chair of the Botanical Society of America (BSA) Advisory Council.

The BSA is the largest professional society of plant scientists in the U.S. (possibly in the world). McDade begins her term in August at Botany 2010. The conference is the joint annual meeting of several leading scientific societies including the American Fern Society, American Society of Plant Taxonomists and Botanical Society of America.

McDade’s research is primarily focused on the large and diverse plant family Acanthaceae. She has served coterminously as the director of research at RSABG and CGU and as chair of the Botany Department since October 2006.

Euphorbia of Oman

Morawetz lands the front and back cover of the April edition of the International Euphorbia Society’s journal.

In April, Jeffery Morawetz, RSABG Fletcher Jones Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, was a key contributor to Euphorbia World (vol. 6, no1, April 2010), the scientific journal dedicated to the study of Euphorbiaceae.

The images were taken from his collection trip to Oman during his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan supported by a Euphorbia Planetary Biodiversity Inventory (PBI) grant.

eu smithii inflorescence6.jpgEuphorbia PBI’s website describes the internationally collaborative project’s mission to create a comprehensive, online resource of the global inventory of the spurges. No small task considering Euphorbia is one of the largest genera of plants on Earth and has an incredible range of variation from cactus-like succulents to leafy spurges such as poinsettia to trees including rainforest giants that can be 50m tall. Plants identified as spurges produce a milky, often toxic, latex sap when cut.

The Euphorbia PBI grant paid for Morawetz’s travel expenses and equipment. The project supports collaborative work among Euphorbia experts conducting critical fieldwork and research on the plant genus.

Morawetz’s photos appeared on the front and back covers as well as a four-page photo essay in the center of the journal. He was also a co-author for the second installment in the ongoing series “Euphorbia Seed Atlas,” which chronicles seed diversity of the Euphorbia species. The journal publishes descriptions of new species and fieldwork reports.

Camel SwarmHere at RSABG, Morawetz is continuing his research in parasitic plants: plants that form parasitical connections with others, appropriating water or both water and nutrients from the host plant. His work will take advantage of the superbly equipped anatomy laboratory at RSABG to study the intricacies of the interface—at the cellular level—between parasite and host.

Read more about Morawetz’s Oman trip on Euphorbia PBI’s website.

View a slideshow of his trip on the University of Michigan’s Herbarium website.

Photo credit: Jeffery Morawetz ( Euphorbia Planetary Biodiversity Inventory), 2010