Biology

MS student Jesse Lincoln wins Outstanding Poster Award

Date: August 6, 2009

Jesse Lincoln's MS thesis research culminates six years of studies regarding a possible interaction between the invasive "Tree-of-Heaven" (Ailanthus altissima) and neighboring legumes (pea and bean family).  Tree-of-Heaven is capable of remarkably fast rates of growth on nutrient poor soils where legumes often dominate due to their ability to fix (capture) atmospheric nitrogen, frequently the most limiting nutrient to plant growth.  Legumes house nitrogen-fixing bacteria (rhizobia) in root tumors called nodules, wherein the legume supplies the rhizobia with an optimal environment for fixation.  Jesse experimentally demonstrated that Tree-of-Heaven releases compounds from its roots that stimulate increased nodulation in red clover (Trifolium repens).  The increase in legume nodulation is most likely an outcome of stress induced by well known phytotoxins exuded by the roots of Tree-of-Heaven.  Jesse is currently investigating the identity of the genes in red clover that are stimulated by Tree-of-Heaven.  Jesse's work may answer, at least in part, why Tree-of-Heaven can grow so well in nutrient poor soils. 

Jesse's faculty advisors are Gary Greer and Margaret Dietrich.