Senior Jonathan Finger of Algonquin, Ill., launched a research project into methods for controlling garlic mustard in the spring of 2007 at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in southwestern Michigan. He said garlic mustard, which plagues the Midwest and has aggressively invaded fields and forests from the East Coast to the West Coast, is more than a mere nuisance.
“The weed produces a chemical that poisons nearby plants, so not only does it compete with and overpower native plants, it down right poisons them,” Finger said. “Garlic mustard is killing our country’s biodiversity.”
With assistance from Dr. Laurie Eberhardt, associate professor of biology, Finger has conducted a series of experiments on and off campus to determine whether garlic mustard’s poison could be controlled with activated carbon, a form of carbon usually derived from charcoal.
During research last summer at Pierce Cedar Creek – supported by a $6,000 grant from the Institute’s Undergraduate Research Grants for the Environment program – Finger applied activated carbon to test plots where garlic mustard was either present or absent. He then observed differences in the growth of the native plants.
That summer research was followed up by laboratory experiments on campus during the past academic year. One of those experiments looked at the effects of garlic mustard’s poisonous secretions on the germination of native columbine seeds and whether activated charcoal could reduce the negative impact of those chemicals. In a second experiment, columbine was germinated in soil either rich in garlic mustard chemicals or soil without any of the chemicals to see if the chemicals damaged wildflowers post-germination.
The results of Finger’s experiments indicate that applying activated carbon in places where native plants are threatened by garlic mustard can help them – and the wildlife that rely on native flora – survive.
“When my proposed treatment of activated charcoal was added to columbine exposed to the garlic mustard toxins, germination rates increased compared to those without the treatment,” Finger said. “This leads to the idea that activated charcoal may be a way to give wildflowers a fighting chance against poorly-behaved plants like garlic mustard.”
Finger and Dr. Eberhardt will present their study on the use of activated carbon to alleviate garlic mustard’s toxic effects on Aug. 8, the final day of the Ecological Society of America conference, which begins Aug. 3 in Milwaukee.
Dr. Eberhardt said it is rare for undergraduate students to be invited to present their research at the society’s annual conference, which is expected to draw more than 3,500 scientists, students and educators.
While not preparing for the conference presentation, Finger has split his summer working at the Environmental Learning Center at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and at the Shirley Heinze Land Trust.
Finger spends his weekday mornings and afternoons doing field restoration for the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the unique ecosystems of the Indiana Dunes region.
“I’m out in their nature preserves applying herbicide, cutting trees and being an overall steward of the land,” said Finger, a student in Valparaiso’s interdisciplinary honors college (Christ College).
After finishing his field restoration work each day, Finger heads to his second job as a naturalist-trainee at the Indiana Dunes. He helps run summer camps at the Environmental Learning Center and lives in a cabin with elementary to high school age boys who are learning about nature, ecology and how to be a responsible environmentalist during the week-long camps.
Dustin J. Wunderlich | Newswise Science News
Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University
Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences