Lindsey Worcester, M.S.
Education: Bachelor of Science in biology (May 2012)
Bachelor of Arts in Bible from Manhattan Christian College
Master of Science in botany from Oklahoma State University
McNair Project: Documentation of Cytotype Variation in Phlox pilosa L. ssp. pilosa (Polemoniaceae) in the Great Plains Region (2010)
Mentor: Carolyn Ferguson, Ph.D.
The genus Phlox L. (plant family Polemoniaceae) ranges across much of North America and is a taxonomically difficult group. Researchers have used different methods and have looked at different aspects of species in Phlox to understand the complicated relationships. The P. pilosa species complex exhibits hybridization and polyploidy. The patterns of cytotype variation of P. pilosa ssp. pilosa are of particular interest in the Great Plains region. Previous reports from the core of the range in the eastern US were of diploid (2x) populations, but two tetraploid (4x) populations were reported in Arkansas and in Texas. For the present study, flow cytometry was used to determine DNA content and infer ploidy level for newly sampled locations in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Results show that diploids occur along the far eastern part of the sampling range in KS and OK, and tetraploids occur just west of where the diploids occur (papatry). A single hexaploid population has been detected. This pattern of cytotype variation is interesting and does not correlate with obvious morphological differences, nor with any taxonomic distinctions. The pattern shows some correlation with altitude, and future work will address precise ecological differences.