Before coming to Berkeley, I conducted ethnobotanical research in the Peruvian Andes and quantitative forest ecology research in Panama. For my Tinker Grant, I traveled to Medellín, Colombia to evaluate variation in secondary metabolite production in leaves and tubers of plants in the genus Bomarea (Alstroemeriaceae). I am interested in how the evolution of secondary metabolites (chemicals that plants produce to defend against herbivory) may correlate with diversification across climatic/ altitudinal gradients. With support from collaborators at the Universidad de Antioquia, I collected samples of tuber and leaf material from ~20 individuals of 5 species commonly found in the department of Antioquia. These species are scattered across the phylogeny of the genus, and by evaluating the chemicals produced in these species, I hope to capture the variation of chemicals in the genus as a whole. I also revised collections of Bomarea in the Herbario de la Universidad de Antioquia (HUA) to better document the altitudinal and geographical distribution of species. Collaborators at the HUA will ship my samples once export permits have been obtained, and I will analyze the samples with support from faculty at UC Berkeley or other U.S. institutions. These results will allow me to determine the suitability of Bomarea as the focal group for my dissertation research.
August 27, 2016