Guest post by Chrissy McAllister, Miller Lab PhD candidate!
I've been traveling back and forth between St. Louis and Manhattan, Kansas during the past few weeks, attempting to collect pollen from big bluestem, the dominant grass of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. I'm interested in patterns of polyploidy (whole genome duplication) and population genetic structure in big bluestem. Kansas State University's Biology Department manages the Konza Prairie Biological Station just outside Manhattan - it's 9000 acres of amazing native prairie set aside mainly for research. I'm collecting plants from an on-going drought experiment on site.
Right now, I'm attempting to collect pollen from big bluestem using small glassine bags that are placed over the flowers in the evening. Big bluestem sheds pollen right after dawn, so in the morning, I come back to collect the pollen in the bag. After battling severe storms (70mph wind with hail that blew most of my little bags halfway to Oklahoma), I was finally successful!
Check out some gorgeous views of the Konza Prairie (and big bluestem pollen!) in the slideshow below...
Miller Lab members