Seagrass responses to ocean acidification: Chris M earns departmental honors

  Biology Honors Presentations.  Wednesday, May 1, 4:30 p.m.Stafford Auditorium.  Christopher Mealey presents “Climate Change Effects on Marine Ecosystems”  Chris Mealey will present his honors thesis research, including work from the Chesapeake Bay (USA) and Moreton Bay (Australia) this week.  Chris arrived in our lab four years ago and also conducted research at the School for Field Studies – Turks and Caicos site on invasive lionfish and at the University of Queensland as a part of our Global Scholars Program.  Some of his work was published in Continue reading →

Global Scholar’s continue their research around the world

  Fearless Curiosity, Fulbright scholar Phoebe Oldach ’13’s bold path to success by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson Phoebe Oldach ’13 doesn’t just talk with her hands. She talks with her pen—accompanying every in-depth explanation with a brisk doodle or scrawl that visualizes her point.  By the end of our hour together, she’s filled a once-pristine sheet of computer paper with illustrations of chemical chains, fish fins and toxic-waste dump sites—a visual guide to a conversational path that takes several small detours, but in the end, progresses to Continue reading →

Findings confirmed!

At the recent Mediterranean Seagrass Workshop in Morocco a group led by Professor Maria Buia showed that the seagrass P. oceanica also suffers reduced phenolic contents in high CO2 / low pH waters near Ischia, Italy, confirming our findings on C. nodosa from Italy and our more recent work on aquatic plants in the Chesapeake Bay.  Their group documented changes in total reactive phenolics that were similar to those we observed at the volcanic vent sites on Vulcano in May 2011.  Last year other researchers found that P. Continue reading →

Vulcano volcano fieldsite

The main crater of the volcano on the island of Vulcano, Itlay, showing our fieldsite in the foreground.  This underwater vent sites emit carbon dioxide, simulating the conditions of ocean acidification and is one of the study sites for the Europena MedSeA program.

Global Scholars and the Forum for Education Abroad

Forum for Education Abroad’s annual conference in Chicago where we had the opportunity to share the results of our first Dickinson Global Scholars program.  The 2012  program was a combination of intensive student-faculty research and global education and a collaborative effort to study the impacts of climate change on Moreton Bay, Australia.  Thanks to all of those who supported our new model of student research and study abroad, including Dickinson’s own Centers for Global Studies and Engagement and Sustainability Education as well as the Smithsonian Continue reading →

New article on plant resource transport and metabolism

New article on plant carbohydrate and nitrogen metabolism published with colleagues from the University of Missouri’s Bond Life Science Center.  The article describes our work with poplar seedlings and older trees, showing that wound responses include the rapid import of sugars but not extra nitrogen-based resources to wound sites such as grazed leaves.  The response is faciliated by jasmonic-acid induction for the activity of extracellular invertases and sugar importing proteins.  See the article here:

Linking science and culture: the art of bonsai

Students from Biology 325 Plant Physiology joined with students and faculty from the the East Asian Studies department and those involved in the College’s new LUCE grant to learn the art of bonsai from local expert Jim Doyle.  This event was the first held in the Inge Stafford Greenhouse facility, which opened a few weeks ago.  For more information, and all the photos find your way to:      

Three new articles about chemical ecology

It’s been a busy year and we’re pleased to have contributed to the following studies, each focusing on different aspects of plant chemical ecology. Schultz JC, HM Appel, Ferrieri A, Arnold TM (in review) Flexible resource allocation during plant defense response.  Invited review, submitted May 2013 to Frontiers in Plant Science. Witter A, Arnold TM (2013) Nature’s Medicine Cabinet: An Interdisciplinary Course Designed To Enhance Student Learning by Investigating the Ecological Roles of Natural Products.   ACS Books “Teaching Bioanalytical Chemistry” Symposium Series volume “Teaching Bioanalytical Continue reading →

Stafford Greenhouse Facility – Open for classes!

A sneak peek at the new Inge P. Stafford Greenhouse for Teaching and Research which has been under construction this winter.  We’re very excited and ready to start teaching in the facility next week, even as construction continues outside.  The facility, with it’s three climate-controlled research modules and common classroom space, will revolutionize our teaching and research capabilities.  In the first few weeks we’ve initiated projects on climate change, grape chemistry, salamander life cycles, and conservation of an endangered butterfly.  

Carbon dioxide information is beautiful (and scary)

Ideas, issues, knowledge, data — visualized! This clever illustration from the “Information is Beautiful” is from the website of David McCandless, a London-based author, writer and designer.  It makes it easier to imagine the relative amounts of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere and marks the predicted dates of some consequences of climate change.  Check it out at: Personally, I’m a big fan of clever and easy-to-follow illustrations because they are part art and part teaching genius.  They also appeal to my tendency to think in Continue reading →

Seagrasses sequester carbon dioxide

There are about 20 billion tons of carbon sequenstered in living seagrasses.  About 10% of this, or 2 billion tons, are contained in (poly)phenolic substances.  These substances are likely to influence the fate of the other 90% of the stored carbon as they influence rates of decomposition, grazing, and pathogen infection.  We discussed some of this in our short presentation on the impacts of climate change on seagrass natural products this week.

Seeing Red: the future of seagrasses?

We’re into red leaves.  Why?  Because often the red substances are anthocyanins.  These colorful compounds can shield plants from the harmful effects of too much light, especially dangerous UV light, and heat.  In Australia researchers have observed reddened seagrass leaves for quite a while (think ozone hole – lots of UV light).  Now researchers are finding that it is a common response in these plants, and that it protects them.  Similar respones have been observed on land, where immature leaves are often redish.  Could this answer the oft-asked question: Continue reading →

Trees worldwide a sip away from dehydration

Plumbing systems operate on a razor’s edge, leaving forests vulnerable.  This by Susan Milius in ScienceNews. “Trees in most forests, even wet ones, live perilously close to the limits of their inner plumbing systems, a global survey of forests finds.  Seventy percent of the 226 tree species in forests around the world routinely function near the point where a serious drought would stop water transport from their roots to their leaves, says plant physiologist Brendan Choat of the University of Western Sydney in Richmond, Australia. Trees even Continue reading →

Reef Rumble! Corals attacked by seaweeds use chemical cues to call in grazing fish

Ok, I’ll be honest.  As plant biochemists we usually cheer for the guys in green (in this case, the seaweeds).  But even we can make an exception when fleshy seaweeds attack corals, which are already in serious decline from coral bleaching, warming sea temperatures, and other aspects of climate change.  In a recent article in Science magazine, Dixson and Hay describe one way corals fight back against seaweeds that threaten to overgrow them.  In short, some corals can call in grazing fish – in this case Continue reading →

Ocean fertilization debate goes private

Ocean fertilization is a type of geoenginerring involving the addition of limiting nutrients to ocena surfaces with the goal of increasing phytoplankton productivity, which may take up and store some of the excess carbon dioxide building in the atmosphere.  While it has the potenital to help mitigate climate change it also risks damaging ocean ecosystems.  The US Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Program recently released it’s report of the un-regulated ocean fertilization experiment conducted by a private company off the Pacific coast of Canada this summer, which Continue reading →

1500 and counting……

  Our recent PLoS ONE paper, coauthored by Dickinson students Hannah Leahey, Chris Mealey, and Kelly Maers, passed the 1,500 download milestone this month.  Not bad for a study on seagrasses and marine grazers.  To celebrate we’re reposting a summary of the work  (with some never before seen photos) below: The world’s oceans absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and slow the pace of climate change.  At the same time the absorbed CO2 lowers the pH of ocean waters, changing seawater chemistry in the process called ocean acidification.  This can have Continue reading →

Halloween special – the secret of the moaning sands revealed.

Well it has nothing to do with the oceans or plants but today’s article from Jane Lee (Science magazine) highlighted new research we find fascinating.  She writes: “When plagued by whipping desert winds, sand dunes signal their displeasure with haunting moans that reverberate across the arid landscape. Some emit single-note songs while others mimic a jumbled chorus—but no one knew why they sang these different songs until now. New research published online this week in Geophysical Research Letters finds that the size of sand grains Continue reading →

Carbon dioxide makes us (and fish) dumb

Here’s an interesting recent study showing the hidden impact of high carbon dioxide levels, this time in office buildings and schools, on cognitive function.    Elevated carbon dioxide may impair reasoning: Insufficient ventilation allows exhaled gas to build up indoors, diminishing decision-making abilities.  According the Janet Raloff at ScienceNews: “The work assessed decision-making in 22 healthy young adults. Their performance on six of nine tests dropped notably when researchers raised indoor carbon dioxide levels to 1,000 parts per million from a baseline of 600 ppm. Continue reading →