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Harvard Forest Research Project 2022

  • Title: Yeast diversity in Sarracenia purpurea
  • Principal investigator: Primrose Boynton (
  • Institution: Wheaton College (MA)
  • Primary contact: Primrose Boynton (
  • Team members:
  • Abstract:

    I will use the yeast Candida pseudoglaebosa, a common resident in pitchers of the carnivorous plant Sarracenia purpurea, to investigate microbial rapid adaptation in a natural environment. Microorganisms are famous for their rapid evolution in laboratory environments, and can often adapt to changing environments over timescales as short as a few days. A challenge for microbial evolutionary biologists is to understand how this rapid adaptation translates to natural environments. The S. purpurea pitcher resident community, with its seasonal changes in the host plant, community succession, and seasonal weather changes, is an ideal system for addressing microbial adaptation in situ. I will compare the genotypes and phenotypes (i.e., relative fitness, growth rates) of C. pseudoglaebosa isolated early and late in the S. purpurea growing season to look for evidence of adaptation over seasonal time. I will also bring microbial cultures from pitchers to the laboratory to measure the interactions of C. pseudoglaebosa with other resident microbes as the community changes during the pitcher growing season. I expect that, as resident pitcher communities undergo ecological changes, these ecological changes impose selection on C. pseudoglaebosa, leading to genotypic and phenotypic changes in the resident C. pseudoglaebosa population.