Date: September 10, 2019
This week for lab we took a trip to Marin Headlands where we were able to see the Mimulus guttatus plant up close and personal. We first walked along a trail that led us to creek that this plant occupied. We found that the Mimulus was found most closely to the water supply that the creek offered. I learned that these plants need moisture which is why we are most likely to find them in wet spots. You can see the beds of Mimulus in the photo below!
We were able to take samples of this Mimulus gutattus for a future research project we will be doing in population genetics. We were given tubes that were filled with silica. The silica is used to dry the leaf and preserve its DNA for future use. The more dry the leaf becomes, the more DNA one is able to extract from the leaf which is why it was important for us to collect a small enough leaf sample that could be completely covered by the silica. You can see the tube and the leaf sample taken in the photo below!
Along the hike, I was able to learn various characteristics about this plant. I was pleasantly surprised to know that Mimulus guttatus is often used as a model organism because of its abundance of qualities. For example, Mimulus is able to grow in a diverse range of environments from a creek in the middle of the forest to the dry land surrounded by serpentine rock. In addition, Mimulus guttatus is able to grow rapidly and reaches maturity extremely quickly so it is able to reproduce at faster and helps researchers track generations of growth. Mimulus also has a genome that is less complex and smaller than many other plants which makes it easier and faster to sequence its genome. In the photos above, you were able to see a very vibrant and green version of Mimulus that was found along the creek that flowed through the forest. Below, I wanted to display a photo of the same plant from a neighboring environment that was much more dry and sat directly in the sun. As you can see in the photo, the Mimulus plant is able to adapt to the surrounding environment and produce seeds through pollinators. However, Mimulus growing in dry environments do not display the same vibrance of the same Mimulus that grow and produce seeds through water pollination.
The last site that we visited, just minutes away from the Marin Headlands trail, was the Serpentine rock which is shown below! I was able to learn and physically see that the state rock, Serpentine, was a green rock that was found everywhere in California where the tectonic plates collide underneath the land. The serpentine rock makes it extremely hard for plants to thrive to their full potential because the rock contains a multitude of metals. I was surprised to find out that despite how dry this land was, I was still able to see the Mimulus guttatus growing. It was not until then that, I was able to fully understand the importance of this plant and its use as a model organism for population genetics.