It is now week 6 and things are heating up (literally).
These past two weeks have been action-packed, as I’ve finally began to collect my samples and run my experiments. My project has two separate components: (1) testing Mongolian Oaks within the Morton Arboretum collection for bacterial leaf scorch and (2) measuring leaf morphological traits including moisture content, foliar nitrogen levels, and leaf area. My project synthesizes these two elements by examining leaf morphology in a pathological context.
In this post, I wanted to focus on the pathological dimension of my project.
In most cases, a tree is brought down by a combination of drought and disease. Insects are common vectors which injure trees by allowing bacteria to invade, and spread the infection by traveling from tree to tree. Bacteria like Xylella fastidiosa, which causes bacterial leaf scorch, grows in cavities and blocks water and nutrients from reaching the leaves.
Just as advancements in STEM research have allowed for doctors to diagnose humans, plant pathology seeks to understand and diagnose plants for disease. However, this requires a baseline knowledge of plant physiology and how plant structure adjusts in response to disease.
In addition to showcasing plant health at the Arboretum, an aspect of plant research that is often overlooked, my research works towards designing a “Fitbit for Trees”. My project seeks to contributes to a baseline of information on trees which would allow us to refine our ability to diagnose the health and growth of trees in the future.
Until next time!