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Comparative Leaf and Spathe Anatomy of Commelinaceae Internship

LeafDESCRIPTION: Commelina is the largest genus of the plant family Commelinaceae. Although it occurs worldwide, it is especially diverse in tropical Africa, where more than half of its 170 species occur. The African species occur in a great diversity of habitats. The leaves and spathes (leafy bracts that enclose the flowers and fruits) in Commelina species are similar in their development, but each has a different function. The question that we are asking is whether species that grow in drier habitats show a greater differentiation between the leaves and spathes than species that grow in moist habitats. To answer this question we will use leaves and spathes of plants that are being grown in the Botany Department Research Greenhouse. The emphasis will be on plant anatomy and microtechnique. The techniques to be used will include paraffin-embedded sections, whole leaf (and spathe) clearings, epidermal scrapes, and scanning electron microscopy. All techniques will be taught as part of the project, but previous lab experience is advantageous.

QUALIFICATIONS: Background in botany.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: The intern will learn more about botany as well as plant anatomy techniques including paraffin-embedded sections, whole leaf (and spathe) clearings, epidermal scrapes, and scanning electron microscopy.

TIMETABLE: Indefinite

AWARD PACKAGE: None

Project Contact Name: Bob Faden

Phone: 202-633-0971

E-mail: fadenr@si.edu