Natalie’s paper accepted to Plant Disease

Our lab recently had a short paper (a disease “note”) accepted to the journal Plant Disease! The paper is titled “First Report of Botryosphaeria dothidea Causing Stem Canker and Plant Death in Malosma laurina in Southern California.” Pepperdine graduate (class of 2017) Natalie Aguirre is the lead author on the paper.

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Natalie examining an infected Malosma laurina

Over the last couple years, Natalie has investigated a serious fungal infection in Malosma laurina, a co-dominant chaparral shrub species on Pepperdine campus. M. laurina (laurel sumac) is an important member of the chaparral plant community throughout the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu, CA. In the past, this shrub has been very resistant to the effects of drought because of its deep roots that access deep water resources. While shallow-rooted plants experience dehydration, M. laurina has remained relatively hydrated.

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Natalie standing inside a healthy M. laurina

However, in 2015 we noticed severe dieback in M. laurina along the coastal exposures of the Santa Monica Mountains. A fungus appears to be blocking water transport in the vascular system, cutting off water supply to the leaves. We suspect that the extended drought of 2012-present may have pre-disposed the plants to be more susceptible to this infection, perhaps by weakening their immune systems or limiting their carbon resources. In the photo below, you can clearly see where the point in the stem where the fungus is growing and blocking water supply to the leaves.

Check out Natalie’s paper when it becomes available online! Also, she has presented this research at the Ecological Society of America (2017) and the Botanical Society of America (2016). You can read her abstracts here:

Natalie’s ESA abstract (2017)

Natalie’s BSA abstract (2016)

There are many student authors on this paper because this was a collaboration of many people in Dr. Davis’ lab! His Plant Physiology class (fall 2015) conducted their class projects on the M. laurina infection. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we learned a lot about the nature of the fungal infection.

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Plant Physiology class excavating M. laurina roots
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Plant Physiology class poster session

Natalie is currently working on a research Fulbright in Madrid, Spain. We are excited to see the great things in store for her!

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Photo credits: Dr. Steve Davis

 

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Santa Cruz Island, January 2018

Earlier this month, several of us took a field trip to Santa Cruz Island to continue our research project on foliar water uptake in island ferns. This time, we were transplanting island ferns to the mainland for further experiments.

As always, the boat ride was fantastic! Dolphins followed us part of the way, and the fog was clearly visible around the island as we approached.

The island has many different microsites with small differences in climate. Thus, we needed to travel all over the island to locate our eight diverse fern species!

Many of the fern species were located near the west end of the island in Christy Pines. This seems like a logical place for the ferns to grow because this west end of the island is frequently foggy. After collecting the ferns, we continued past Christy Pines to Christy Beach.

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Gaby at Christy Beach

The next day, we drove back to the dock at Prisoners’ Harbor. From there we hiked to Pelican Bay, where the rest of our fern species grow. There is a small perennial water source near Pelican Bay, and many of the dehydration sensitive evergreen ferns grow there.

It was certainly a successful trip! I am excited for the experiments we will run over the next few months, and I am definitely looking forward to returning to the island.

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Leaving Santa Cruz Island

Eclipse Adventure

Last August, I went to Oregon with my labmate Kate to view the solar eclipse! The journey was a fantastic adventure, and we enjoyed every minute of it.

First, we drove through Eureka and Crescent City in northern California. The air was filled with smoke from the nearby wildfires, creating a fiery sunset. Also, we drove past an enormous herd of elk.

We camped in the redwood forest, alongside the ferns and banana slugs.

Next, we drove by Crater Lake, which was also hazy from all the smoke, but still incredibly blue!

We camped that night at a place called Cinder Hill campground.

We were worried about traffic on the Oregon highways, so we left at 3 am! However, we got up extra early to make coffee.

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Actually, there was no traffic on the way into Madras area to view the eclipse. We decided to view the eclipse from Cove Palisades campground and waited there. Cove Palisades alone was worth the trip! The state park is located at the junction of the Deschutes and Crooked rivers.

We were joined by many fellow eclipse chasers. The eclipse itself was breath-taking, like nothing I had ever seen!

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Driving back to Eureka was when we hit the traffic. Our trip was extended from 7 hours to about 13 hours!

We stayed at Patrick’s Point State Park after that. The park has coastal redwoods growing near a beach.

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Rolling up a wet tent is hard!

Overall, the trip was fantastic. I hope I can go see the next eclipse!

Summer Adventues

This summer, I spent three weeks doing field work at La Selva Biological Research Station in Costa Rica!

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The field station is located in the beautiful Costa Rican rainforest.

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The rainforest is alive with frogs, bugs, and many other critters!

 

The howler monkeys woke us up every morning.

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Sloths are hard to spot in the trees, but this one liked to hang out near the bridge.

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Deadly eyelash vipers live in the forest.

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Eyelash viper

Of course, the plants were the most exciting part of the rainforest.

In August, I participated in a Plant Hydraulics methods workshop in McCall, Idaho. We met for several days at the MOSS field station and learned various techniques related to plant hydraulics.

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I flew straight from Idaho to Portland, OR, to present my research at the Ecological Society of America.

Monterey and Point Lobos

Here are some of the photos I took at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Point Lobos. The weather was beautiful, and I even caught a glimpse of a rainbow over the ocean!

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium is featuring an excellent exhibit called “Tentacles.” The octopuses (octopodes?) changed colors several times while we watched.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located right next to Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, where scientists perform world-class research right in the bay.

After Monterey, my friends and I explored Point Lobos, located 20 minutes south of Monterey. First we visited Whalers’ Cove, named for the 19th century Chinese fishermen.

On the trail we found ferns!

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My friends and I enjoyed exploring the tide pools.

I’m looking forward to going back!

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Nature Photography, December 2016

 

Here are some of my favorite pictures from my recent travels! Photo credits: Helen Holmlund. Please ask permission before using. hholmlun@ucsc.edu