Research Initiation Award: Characterization and development of young leaves of Glyphosate Susceptible Amaranthus palmeri vs Glyphosate Resistant Amaranthus palmeri after exposure
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) Research Initiation Awards (RIAs) provide support to STEM faculty at HBCUs to pursue research at their home institution, at an NSF-funded Center, at a research intensive institution or at a national laboratory. The RIA projects are expected to help further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, to improve research and teaching at their home institution, and to involve undergraduate students in research experiences. With support from the National Science Foundation, Prairie View A & M University (PVAMU) seeks to conduct a research project that bridges the academic units of biology, ecology, agriculture, bioinformatics and imaging. This study assesses the impact of acetic acid on the two forms of Amaranthus palmeri and creates a baseline of genomic data. This project is a collaboration with the PVAMU Computational Center and provides funds for two undergraduates to engage in research each semester. Students involved with the project will be closely mentored. This will include teaching them new scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and computational skills, preparing then to make poster presentations at local/national research symposia and/or conferences and discussing long term career goals. Project results will inform scientists and the agricultural community about which varying concentrations of acetic acid can best be used as a sustainable method of organic weed control. The idea for any growth control agent is to use the least amount of chemical and cause the least amount of change to the environment.
Traditional herbicides and growth control agents contain glyphosate based compounds and were initially thought to cause minimal change to the environment. After continued use of these compounds, scientists noticed that some weeds, including A. palmeri, became resistant to the glyphosate based herbicides, thus debunking the idea of minimal harm to the environment. The information gained from the study will provide significant information to evolutionary science because the two versions of A. palmeri evolved in a relatively short time frame. Changes in the genome from year to year and region to region will be assessed and related to acetic acid treatments. The genomic data will provide insight into the evolutionary changes at the genome level. When plants are stressed, they often exhibit changes in the leaf structures, microbiota and genome. Scanning Electron Microscopy will be used to determine the most vulnerable stages of plant development impacted by acetic acid and show changes in leaf surface structures and genetic profile. The study also analyzes the impact that timing of the application of acetic acid has on growth control. The results will have implications for other weeds. The project is expected to show that when acetic acid is applied early and before the desired crop emerges, there will be less change/damage to the environment. Applying acetic acid at the right time and using it as an organic weed control will serve as a model technique/practice for producers and will lower their cost while increasing productivity. This project is novel because it uses genomic data to assess the effects of acetic acid treatments at each stage of development.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.