Nitrogen Fixers Part 3 — Missouri Botanic Garden Goodness
Our next expedition featuring plants from the Nitrogen Fixing clade is here! As you know, we have been busily collecting samples from herbarium specimens that will be used to look at the genomes of these plants. We are looking in particular for the genes that are responsible for creating the root nodules that house nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This symbiosis has allowed plants with these nitrogen fixing bacteria to survive in places where they usually cannot.
We plan to look at a portion of the genome for more than ten thousand species of the 35,000 or so in the nitrogen fixing group (which forms a natural grouping). The photo below shows two of our champion samplers during our best day collecting ever – 322 species were sampled. When we sample, we have to look through folders of herbarium sheets to find specimens that are relatively recent and that are in good shape for taking a small piece of tissue. The specimen photos you are helping to digitize all have QR code coin envelopes in them, as you have noticed, and those are the same envelopes (with a little bit of tissue tucked inside) as in the photo.
This new expedition (the third Nitrogen Fixing expedition) features specimens from the Missouri Botanic Gardens (MOBOT), which houses a fabulous collection of plants from around the world. MOBOT has databased a lot of their material, and for us to be able to access databased specimens, we need to be able to reference the last name of the collector of the specimen and the collector number. This makes for a fast expedition since those are the only two pieces of information we need right now. We also hope you like learning about this remarkable group of plants, and we appreciate the help unraveling one of the most successful symbioses on the planet.