Potential for redifferentiation of moss leaf cells based on initial leaf position

Author: Amelia Page
Major: Biology
Approved: Spring 2021
Status: In progress

When a cell is pluripotent, it is able to differentiate into other types of cells that make up an organism. Currently, there is a gap in the literature about pluripotency of moss leaf cells in regards to the initial position of the leaf on a stem. Most of the research has been done with the model system Physcomitrella patens and while P. patens is ideal for a lot of research, in this case P. patens is not representative of all moss species. P. patens only has leaves at the top of the stem and thus cannot show how leaves in different positions may be impacted in their abilities to dedifferentiate and redifferentiate. The goal of my research is to examine moss that have leaves along their entire stem.

For my research, I will find up to six different species of moss that live in the Roanoke Valley. Three will be upright (acrocarpus) and three will be creeping (pleurocarpus), and all will have leaves large enough to manipulate easily. I will run basic tissue culture experiments on each species to determine if leaves from the top, middle, or bottom positions of the stem achieve redifferentiation at different rates. The results of these experiments will help further our understanding of plant evolution. The evolutionary question that my research seeks to answer is do different leaves in different positions have unique rates of redifferentiation due to how far they would fall from the parent plant.