Aspen are the most widely distributed broadleaf tree in North America .However, aspen mortality is widespread across the Intermountain West. Researchers are attempting to determine the causes of the decline and propose future methods of management.
In order to survive, plants need to take in CO2 through pores on their leaves called stomata. When the stomata are open, the plant takes in CO2, however, water escapes. Therefore, stomata are important in regulating the drought response in plants. The size and the density of the stomata could influence the drought tolerance of an organism.
In Utah, there are triploid (3 copies of each chromosome) and diploid (2 copies) aspen. Previous studies have shown that triploid organisms have larger cells than their diploid counterparts. This project will determine if there is a difference in stomatal size and density to assess the response of aspen to drought. Knowing which ploidy level in aspen is likely to be more drought tolerant will provide important direction to management, since forestry practices favoring diploid vs triploid are different.
Research On Capitol Hill 2016
Palmer, Brianne, "Stomatal Differences in Western Aspen and Linkage to Drought Tolerance" (2016). Research on Capitol Hill. Paper 34.