Hailey Arango '21
Major: Environmental Studies
Bio: Hailey Arango is an Environmental Studies major. Her interests lie within the realms of Behavioral Ecology, Ethology, Conservation Biology, and Environmental Science. She hopes to develop ethical solutions to environmental conflicts through graduate study.
Title of Research: Sequencing DNA from Pollen to Determine Species Richness and Plant Biodiversity
Mentor: Dr. Mary G. Egan
Abstract: We have been developing methods for identifying plant species collected by bees using pollen pellets. Preliminary work had examined sequences of the rbcl gene region. By conducting literature reviews we have identified additional gene regions and PCR conditions to test for their suitability for identifying plants to the species level. In addition, we explored the systematics literature to gain a better understanding of how to identify species using DNA barcodes. Preliminary work had developed methods for DNA extraction using pollen pellets from commercial hives. The goal of this current project was to use DNA from pollen pellets collected in the natural landscape. We obtained additional samples by purchasing pollen pellets from a local beekeeper with "stationary" hives. These non-commercial hives are not transported to fields for pollinating crops. We also contacted local beekeepers to explore measures to set up pollen traps. This work has set the stage for continuing this project through laboratory work including DNA extraction and sequencing to develop a multi-locus DNA barcode. Collectively, these data could provide insight into local vegetation diversity and bee foraging and the interdependence of the well-being of pollen foragers and their maintenance of ecosystem services. An understanding of foraging behaviors may reveal factors from an urban landscape that could influence honeybee survivorship.