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Abstract Detail

The fruitful outcome of graduate student-designed curricula: research modules, publishing opportunities, and outreach inspired by the NSF’s Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Program

Gonzalez, Favio [1], Pabon-Mora, Natalia [2].

Evo evo on a budget: An effort to update the plant developmental biology curriculum for public universities in Colombia.

Plant development in an evolutionary biology perspective (evo-devo) requires the integration of phylogenetics, comparative morphology and anatomy, and a substantial molecular biology background. Built upon such background, evo-devo then formulates questions about the relationship between gene expression and function with specific phenotypes. As many other scientific disciplines, evo-devo has undergone a “romantic” phase followed by an “empiric” phase before reaching an academically mature status. Leading international institutions in the field have successfully integrated all disciplines, and for the most part have achieved such status. However, research has been focused on model organisms such as Arabidopsis, rice and corn. On the other hand, universities in many developing countries strive to train and recruit local scientists in several of the basic fields, able to undertake integrative approaches aimed at research on non-model organisms. These organisms, usually tropical, grow under complex ecological requirements, being thus difficult or impossible to grow in greenhouses. In this talk we will present ongoing case studies carried out in the National University of Colombia, one of the leading public institutions in the country. We have selected some neotropical plant taxa for these projects, on the basis of several criteria: 1) the occurrence of atypical floral or fruit characters in members of Aristolochiacaeae, Chlorantaceae, Papaveraceae, Proteaceae, and Solanaceae; 2) the extremely diverse morphological traits on leaves, flowers and fruits, as e.g. in genera of Orchidaceae, Berberidacaeae and Piperaceae; and 3) the morphological stasis of flowers in neotropical Coriariaceae, Gunneraceae and Winteraceae. These projects attempt to provide a stronger background regarding phylogenetic relationships, and character evolution as the basis for more academically mature phases of evo-devo. We will highlight the major challenges standardizing a state-of-the-art evo-devo program in Colombia. Lastly, we will discuss which molecular biology tools should be implemented to assess gene expression and function in non-model species and how are we beginning to incorporate them in our ongoing projects.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Universidad Nacional De Colombia, Instituto De Ciencias Naturales, Ciudad Universitaria Universidad Nacional, Bogota, 1, Colombia
2 - Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifith Avenue, New York, NY, 10016, USA

Neotropical plants
non-model species.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY08
Location: Forsyth Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Time: 2:45 PM
Number: SY08003
Abstract ID:638

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