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The following research projects and studies are taking place in or with participation of the University Botanical Garden at the Department of Botany. Previously published work can be found here.
Participation in Interdisciplinary Research Networks
Spatio-Temporal Landscape Research in a Virtual Research Environment
Population patterns of water-related plant species in kettle holes of Mecklenburg as a function of spatial and temporal parameters of landscape structure and use in a virtual interdisciplinary landscape laboratory (Financed by: DFG).
The following research topics have the overall background of looking at interesting plant features, which could have useful applications for humans. The development of heightened tolerance or resistance to dessication is of special interest for both crop and ornamental plants in this time of rapid climate change (ex. Northeast Germany having less summer precipitation). Structure and efficiency of certain surfaces and mechanisms of carnivorous plants can provide models for technical applications. Some plant groups, especially those of tropical regions (ex. Cola trees), have many anthropogenic uses in the localities where they grow, but their full potential for human use is not well known at all. Additionally, the need to do taxonomic work on plant groups is increasingly important for work related to protecting and preserving endangered and threatened species. This work is done together with colleagues at African partner institutions.
Anatomical and Morphological Adaptations to Extreme Site Conditions in Resurrection Plants
Anatomical and Morphological Research on Drought-Tolerant African Vascular Plants Along a Climatic Gradient
Anatomical, Morphological, and Physiological Characterization of Styppeiochloa hitchcockii
Population Genetics of Drought-Tolerant Plants on Inselbergs in Africa and Madagascar
The Evolution of Carnivorous Plants – The Example of Pre-Carnivores
Analysis of Volatile Compounds in Selected Carnivorous Plants
Trapping Strategies of Carnivorous Plants: The Example of Utricularia – or: Plants as Quick as a Flash
The genus Utricularia of the bladderwort family (Lentibulariaceae) also belongs to the group of carnivorous plants. The common range of these species is tropical and sub-tropical regions, but in Germany, there are also aquatic members.
These plants have small bladder-like traps, only a few millimeters in diameter. The entrance to these traps is tightly closed by a trapdoor. Water is then pumped out of the trap by specific glands to create a pressure imbalance. In the event that an aquatic insect brushes up against one of the trigger hairs beneath the trap entrance, the trapdoor opens and water with the prey is sucked into the trap within milliseconds.
The fastest known movement by a plant is tied between that of an aquatic bladderwort (Utricularia australis) and a terrestrial bladderwort (Utricularia livida).
At what speed can terrestrial plants react in order to open their trapdoors? Where does the energy for this process come from, and how long does it take to reset the trap? These are questions that remain unanswered, and are the leading questions of this research project.
Bachelor thesis of Sarah Haberstroh
Pollination Biology of Pulsatilla vulgaris in Ex-Situ Cultivation
Due to the ongoing land use change and the dramatic fragmentation and conversion of natural habitats, many plant populations have become genetically impoverished and their survival is now under threat. Plants of such endangered wild species are cultivated and propagated ex situ in botanical gardens, with the goal of reintroducing genetically diverse populations to the wild. For the success of this process, the genetic quality of the produced seeds or plants is of utmost importance. The species that are cultivated in botanical gardens in unavoidably confined conditions must not hybridize with other species, which otherwise would cancel out all conservation efforts. For most species that are held in ex-situ cultivation, research still needs to be done on how and at what distances the transport of pollen from other plants in the area to ex-situ cultivated plants occurs. In other words, which measures have to be taken to prevent the possible hybridization and protect the genetic integrity of these rare plants?
To this end, individual members of the common pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) are planted in a grid formation across the entirety of the Rostock Botanical Garden and the pollen transport between individuals is tracked via fluorescent powder. This powder is added to the natural pollen on the stamens of selected plants. From the other plants, the powder transferred and deposited by insects is collected and analyzed with a fluorescence microscope. This in springtime easily manageable flower–pollinator system should provide clues to the pollen transport and pollination behavior of the insects observed on the flowers, and allow us to improve the care of ex-situ populations in botanical gardens.
Bachelor thesis of Marleen Schultheiß and masters thesis of Wiebke Wolf
Diversity, Use, and Conservation of Cola Species in Africa
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