Prairie in a Petri Dish

by Delia Moran Portillo and Alex Paine
Faculty advisor: Dr. James Hampton

The prairie plants of Iowa are of particular interest as they have a number of interesting physical and biochemical adaptations to the environment around them. They were used medicinally by Native Americans and some were included in the U.S. Pharmacopeia. Despite their known and potential benefits, there has been relatively little work done establishing tissue culture lines of these beautiful and interesting organisms. Our research group has attempted to introduce tissue from various prairie plants into culture. We have included Ratibida pinnata (yellow coneflower), Andropogon gerardii (big blue stem), Asclepias incarnate (swamp milkweed), Asclepias tuberose (butterfly milkweed), and Monarda fistulosa (bergamot) as part of our culturing attempts. We have had varying degrees of success with R. pinnata and A. incarnate producing the most callus. We will also present the results of the treatment of these tissue cultures with the microtubule inhibitor, colchicine in an attempt to generate polyploid lines.