August 15, 2003
Rolf Baumberger, a biology researcher at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, has been studying the bush monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus) for almost ten years. Until last year, however, he was making several trips per year to the San Diego State University Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve (SMER) - examining the flower's alteration in shape and color during various conditions.
Since Spring 2002, Baumberger has been observing monkey flowers at SMER via an HPWREN-connected real-time camera. "During this study I realized that evolution of plants is a bit smarter than a biology student might believe," Baumberger says. "In comparing these two photographs - one taken in May and the other taken in July - one realizes that a single 'monkey' can quickly alter shape and color when the conditions are favorable."
Image courtesy of Rolf Baumberger, University of Zurich
"This transition is not reversible, as far as I have observed," further explains Baumberger. "Furthermore, before 'mimulating', I collected a clone of this plane, which is now growing in Switzerland where bush monkey flowers never alter, and the clone still has yellow flowers."
Baumberger is now studying self-crossings of this yellow clone growing in Switzerland as well as crossings of a transitional plant that has been growing at SMER since 2001.
"If the offspring of both the Swiss-grown plant and the SMER-grown plant are not similar in phenotypes, one can definitely prove that the character of an altered plant is being heritated," says Baumberger.
The results of Baumberger's current crossing studies are expected in early 2004.
To take a look at the SMER bush monkey flowers being observed by Baumberger via a real-time HPWREN-connected camera, see http://stat.hpwren.ucsd.edu/cameras/SMER1-3.JPG.
Details about Baumberger's studies at Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve are available at http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/news/020415.html.
Additional information about the SMER camera can be found at http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/news/011206.html and http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/news/011003.html.
Photographs regarding the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve's connection to HPWREN are available at http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/sites.html#SMER.
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