Project Title: Genetic Variation and Adaptation in the Salt Marsh Plant Salicornia depressa
Principal Investigator: Brook Moyers,
Affiliations: University of Massachusetts
Summary: Salicornia are small annual saltwater marsh plants that grow throughout coastal New England and globally. They are edible and have potential uses as agricultural commodities or as phytoremediators of sites contaminated with heavy metals. We are characterizing the genetic diversity and adaptive potential of the most common New England native species, S. depressa, for which little data currently exists. To do so we sequence DNA from individual plants in populations across coastal New England along with the microbial rhizosphere (soil microorganisms closely associated with plant roots). We also analyze the soil in which plants are growing to understand its chemical composition. This research could assist in planning and management of genetic resources and amelioration of industrial/urban contaminants for coastal wetlands, and more broadly will provide insight into the diversity and capacity of this potentially valuable species.