Project Overview

The Ecophysiology of Polyploidy in the Fern Genus Dryopteris.

Faculty Sponsor

Eddie Watkins (




The goals of this project are to examine the ecological consequences of harboring multiple genomes (polyploidy) in the fern genus Dryopteris. This remarkable group of ferns forms many polyploid races from diploid (2n) to hexaploid (6n), a concept known as polyploidy. Over the years a great deal of research had focused on understanding why plants maintain high levels of polyploidy, yet very little of this work has focused on ferns. This project will examine several species in the field and will involve setting up multiple field and lab-based experiments. In the lab, students will work on cultivating species under different temperature and drought regimes and then evaluate in situ stress responses. This will be followed by whole genome extraction to evaluate how gene expression varies across species with different ploidy levels across temperature/drought. A significant portion of this work will take place in the field, so potential students need to be prepared to be outside. 

Student Qualifications

Completion of at least Bio 181, interest in ecology and field biology 

Number of Student Researchers

3 students

Project Length

10 weeks

<< Back to List

If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (