Ceratopteris Growth Experiments

Is bigger always better? The answer isn't so straightforward when it comes to spores. Larger spores contain more resources to help support a very young, newly germinated plant in its growth, but larger spores are also difficult to disperse, especially on land. Using Ceratopteris, an aquatic fern often found ornamenting home aquariums that happens to have a large range of spore sizes, we are exploring the relationships among spore size, growth rate, and sex expression to gain a better understanding of the advantages larger spores confer under various circumstances. These experiments are ongoing, but the initial work was begun in collaboration with Heather Huminski (a former Brown University Undergraduate) supported by an Undergraduate Teaching and Research (UTRA) award, which later grew into Heather's senior thesis project.