March 28, 2021

Exploring the Rhododendron Research Network (R-RN)

The Rhododendron Research Network (R-RN) was founded at Holden in 2017 to increase collaboration and dissemination of Rhododendron research, to connect scientists with each other and with plant enthusiasts from across the globe.

With 900+ species in the genus, representing a broad range of physiology and ecology, Rhododendron is the focal point of studies all over the world, ranging from horticulture and breeding, to conservation and restoration, to ecology and evolution, to medicinal chemistry and ethnobotany. In addition, Rhododendron’s popularity as ornamental and medicinal plants dates back over 500 years, highlighting the enormous potential of these plants to connect seemingly-distant problems like conservation and medicine, or gardening and climate change, to solve the big mysteries of how biodiversity arises, why it matters to humans, and how to preserve it.

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March 28, 2021

Science on Friday: One Fruit, Two Fruit, Red Fruit, Blue Fruit

Ohio’s forests have changed over the last 200 years. Few old-growth forests remain as much of the land was timbered and cleared for agriculture in the early 19th century. Most forests in the northeastern U.S. sit on land used for agriculture as recently as 40 to 85 years ago. After years of disturbance from farming activities, there are challenges for forests trying to regenerate. These young forests tend to have high numbers of introduced species (originating from other parts of the world) that compete with native species. They also tend to be crowded with smaller trees which happens when many trees began growing all at the same time. To restore the historic integrity of these forests, forest managers remove non-native plants while thinning dense tree stands through timbering. These management actions aim to improve the health of the forest and increase their ability to act as ecosystem superheroes – combating climate change by storing carbon, protecting biodiversity by providing habitat for wildlife, and improving water quality by regulating rain water.

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Science on Friday: One Fruit, Two Fruit, Red Fruit, Blue Fruit

March 28, 2021

How does “the early bird gets the worm” play out in plant communities?

You’ve heard the phrase “the early bird gets the worm”. We use it to indicate that getting somewhere first can come with big benefits. It’s snagging the choicest donuts in the office lunchroom, or the best seats in the movie theater. And so it goes in the natural world. Being the first species to get to a new place has advantages. Early plants can grab the space, shade out species that come later, take up valuable nutrients from the soil, and establish large root networks for water uptake. In ecology, we have a term for this sort of early-bird benefit – priority effects. And these priority effects can play an outsized role in determining what species you’ll find in a certain area.

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How does “the early bird gets the worm” play out in plant communities?

March 28, 2021

The surprising way Jack-in-the-Pulpit initiates pollination…

Some of the most fun stories we have in science are about surprising discoveries. Most people think of these as “eureka” moments. We can picture a scientist in a lab seeing something unexpected and shouting with excitement. “Eureka!” But, in science, these “eureka” moments don’t really exist. When we make a surprising observation, it’s not always immediately clear that what we have witnessed is, in fact, surprising at all. Today for #ScienceonFridayswithHolden, we’d like to share an observation made by our department chair, David Burke. It is a story about an unlikely pollinator and is fitting as we wrapped up #NationalPollinatorMonth earlier this week.

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The surprising way Jack-in-the-Pulpit initiates pollination…

March 28, 2021

Pollinator Research at the Arboretum with Dr. Na Wei

Why do we care about pollinators? Pollinators are important creatures in natural ecosystems and our daily life because they provide vital services to wild plants and our crops. Pollinators carry and deliver pollen to facilitate plant fertilization to produce fruits and seeds. These fruits serve as food for many animals in nature, and the seeds are next-generation offspring to maintain plant persistence. Nearly 300,000 wild plants (87% of flowering plants) depend on pollinators and their services. For humans, 75% of our leading crop species and 35% of global food production depend on pollinators, including our favorite ones (e.g. apples, strawberries, pears, tomatoes, coffee, etc.)

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Pollinator Research at the Arboretum with Dr. Na Wei

March 28, 2021

Science on Friday: Spring phenology monitoring wraps for the year

As spring transitions to summer, we’re wrapping up this year’s spring phenology monitoring in Bole Woods at the Holden Arboretum. Have you heard the term phenology before? Phenology is the study of the timing of natural phenomena – anything that has a seasonal signal. When does Trillium flower? When do hummingbirds arrive in northeast Ohio for the summer? Over the past few decades, phenology has been the canary in the coal mine for ecologists studying the ecological impacts of climate change. Phenology has been one of the earliest ecological parameters observed to shift with the changing climate, and continues to shift ever more strongly as the climate continues to warm.

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Science on Friday: Spring phenology monitoring wraps for the year

March 28, 2021

Science on Friday: Plant–pollinator interactions and the role of the flower microbiome in crabapples

Today we are continuing our story of ornamental apples (crabapples). Plants are living in a microbial world. They interact not only with microbes in the soil but also the ones living in their flowers. These microbial partners can be beneficial or harmful, and thus hold the key for plant disease resistance and health. Our research aims to understand the factors that determine which microbes and how many of them are in flowers (i.e. flower microbiome).

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Science on Friday: Plant–pollinator interactions and the role of the flower microbiome in crabapples

March 28, 2021

Science on Friday – Intern program

As a scientist at the Holden Arboretum, I wear many hats, but one of my favorites is mentor to our summer interns. Each year, Holden’s Research Department brings in students from around the country to join us in our labs, gardens, and forests. These students help us collect valuable data used to make new discoveries about the role of plants in our natural world, and in turn, get to try their hand at being a scientist. Many of them will go on to become scientists themselves.

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Science on Friday – Intern program

March 26, 2021

Promoting Healthy Forests Through Research at Working Woods

If you have been hiking on the Bole Woods loop in the last two years, you may have noticed some strange white pipes sticking out of the ground, or perhaps a group of eager young ecologists measuring trees or counting seedlings. “What is this all about?”, you may ask yourself. This is Working Woods, a 76-acre living laboratory where a 40-year-old forest is currently undergoing a transformation, and in the process is teaching us how to manage Ohio’s valuable forests.

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Promoting Healthy Forests Through Research at Working Woods

March 26, 2021

How genus Rhododendron became my favorite plant species

As a plant scientist I am often asked the question, “What is your favorite plant species?” The truth is, I can’t pick just one. What I love about plants is their diversity, so, this is the story of how an entire genus of plants became my favorite, and how our research on genus Rhododendron at Holden Forests & Gardens helps us to conserve biodiversity and solve the mystery as to why there are so many different kinds of plants on Earth.

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How genus Rhododendron became my favorite plant species

March 26, 2021

Coding in plant biology, who knew?

I never viewed myself as a math person, let alone a computer coder. I have always loved nature, animals and plants, these are what drew me to plant biology. But somehow, coding has become one of my favorite parts of my research at Holden Forests & Gardens. Looking back, maybe it isn’t too surprising. In 1977 my mother was one of the few women in the world working on a graduate degree in computer science, with 7-year-old me in tow as she taught her evening course. She jokes about how I used to doodle with my markers and then raise my little hand to ask and answer questions in her class, and now I often reflect on this as the first moments of joy I found in coding.

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Coding in plant biology, who knew?

March 25, 2021

Long-term Research in Forest Ecology in Stebbins Gulch

We began our long-term climate research in Stebbins Gulch in 2006. Our goal was to monitor how plants and soil fungi that associate with plant roots (called mycorrhizal fungi) respond to changes in air and soil temperature and moisture. This shows one of our two weather stations in the old-growth beech-maple forest in Stebbins. The beech tree in the background that toppled over in 2015 was more about 219 years old when it fell based on tree ring data – the tree began to grow in 1796.

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Long-term Research in Forest Ecology in Stebbins Gulch

March 25, 2021

Research Spotlight: Exploring Fire Blight in Ornamental Apple Trees

By Katie Stuble, PhD, Scientist

Plants are living in a microbial world. They interact not only with microbes in the soil but also the ones living in their flowers. These microbial partners can be beneficial or harmful. One of the most devastating epidemics in ornamental apple trees – fire blight – is caused by bacterial infection initiated during bloom, and can be spread from flower to flower by visiting pollinators. Breakthrough in suppressing this pathogenic microbe is needed.

At Holden, we aim to develop plant probiotics against fire blight using beneficial flower microbes from the resistant cultivars of ornamental apples (crabapples). Holden has established an invaluable resource of crabapple cultivar collection for over 30 years. At Holden’s long-term experiment plot of crabapples, every single tree has been permanently tagged. These cultivars differ in their flowers such as color and smell and diPlants are living in a microbial world. They interact not only with microbes in the soil but also the ones living in their flowers. These microbial partners can be beneficial or harmful. One of the most devastating epidemics in ornamental apple trees – fire blight – is caused by bacterial infection initiated during bloom, and can be spread from flower to flower by visiting pollinators. Breakthrough in suppressing this pathogenic microbe is needed.sease resistance. We will monitor their flowering and study flower microbes.

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Research Spotlight: Exploring Fire Blight in Ornamental Apple Trees

January 1, 2021

Stuble Lab Receives Invasive Plants Research Grant

Holden Scientist, Katie Stuble, and graduate student, Alexa Wagner, have received funding from the Ohio Invasive Plants Council. Their project, titled “Determining dynamics responsible for plant community responses to overstory thinning and invasive species management,” was awarded funding for $1,500. This support will help efforts to quantify the impacts management in Working Woods has on the survival and growth of young invasive species, as well as, the reproductive success of adult shrub species. This information will hopefully help predict restoration outcomes and inform management aiming to reestablish native plant communities.

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Stuble Lab Receives <em>Invasive Plants Research</em> Grant

October 30, 2020

Holden Scientists Publish Commentary in New Phytologist

October 30, 2020 – Holden Scientist, Juliana Medeiros, and Postdoctoral Scholar, Randy Long, have published a commentary in the new issue of New Phytologist. The commentary discusses how studies of root traits and their influence on water transport in plants need to include the evolutionary history of the plant species. The commentary can be read here.

October 20, 2020

Holden Researcher is Guest Instructor at Lake Erie College

Holden Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, was invited to Lake Erie College (LEC) as a guest lab instructor for Dr. Deborah Schulman’s Microbiology class for the second year in a row. For the two-part lab, the LEC students extracted total DNA from soil samples and then used an established biotechnology method called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to amplify bacterial species living in the soil. The analyzed soil samples are being used to compare new and old growth forests at Holden, however the techniques that the students learned can be used to analyze communities of microbes living anywhere.

Holden Researcher is Guest Instructor at Lake Erie College

October 8, 2020

Greenhouse Study Conducted at Holden Published in the Journal Oecologia

The current issue of the journal Oecologia includes an article titled “The soil biotic community protects Rhododendron spp. across multiple clades from the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi at a cost to plant growth.” This article, which includes Holden Scientist Juliana Medeiros and Holden Adjunct Scientist and CWRU professor Jean Burns as co-authors, details a greenhouse study led by CWRU graduate student Yu Liu that was conducted at Holden. The study tested the effects of soil biota on disease resistance and plant traits across four clades of Rhododendron and can be read here.

October 1, 2020

Study on Lesser Celandine Published in the Journal Biological Invasions

David Burke, Holden’s Vice President for Science and Conservation, and Postdoctoral Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, are co-authors on a study of lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) that is in the current issue of Biological Invasions. The study was conducted in the laboratories at the Long Science Center by Allison Paolucci who, at the time, was an undergraduate at Cleveland State University working with professor Emily Rauschert. The project investigated how fungi that were associated with the roots of lesser celandine, including ericoid mycorrhizal fungi and dark septate fungi, potentially influence plant performance. The published article can be read here.

September 15, 2020

The Wei Lab Welcomes Jessica LaBella

Jessica LaBella began a year-long internship in the Wei Lab this month thanks to funding from the R. Henry Norweb, Jr. Fellowship for Scientific Research in Horticulture. Jessica graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry this May. Her research at Holden will focus on the effects of the rhizosphere and environmental microbes on plant physiology and plant-to-plant interactions.

The Wei Lab Welcomes Jessica LaBella

September 5, 2020

The Research Department Welcomes Ph.D. Student Claudia Victoroff

Claudia Victoroff is a new Ph.D. student in David Burke’s lab and was welcomed by the Research Department this month. She holds a Master of Science degree from the State University of New York and will continue her research on mycorrhizal fungi during her Ph.D., which is jointly hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Holden Forests and Gardens.

The Research Department Welcomes Ph.D. Student Claudia Victoroff

September 1, 2020

The Stuble Lab Welcomes Emma Dawson-Glass

Research Specialist, Emma Dawson-Glass, was welcomed by the Stuble lab. Emma’s research will focus on community assembly, species dynamics, and ecosystem function.

The Stuble Lab Welcomes Emma Dawson-Glass

August 30, 2020

Rory Schiafo and Emily Galloway Head to Graduate School

The Research Department said goodbye to Emily Galloway and Rory Schiafo, who each began their graduate careers this month. Emily is in a Ph.D. program at Miami University and Rory is in a Ph.D. program at Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden. We wish both of them well, as they go on to study restoration, and can’t wait to watch their scientific careers unfold.

Rory Schiafo and Emily Galloway Head to Graduate School

August 30, 2020

The Burke Lab Welcomes Mary Pitts

Research Specialist, Mary Pitts, was welcomed by the Burke lab. Mary will research beech leaf disease (BLD) as part of a collaborative project with the U.S. Forest Service.

The Burke Lab Welcomes Mary Pitts

August 11, 2020

The Stuble Lab’s Research Highlighted in Science Magazine

Katie Stuble was quoted in Science magazine. She was interviewed about the work she has done with ants, which disperse the seeds of forest wildflowers. This article in Science (found here) followed a presentation Katie made at the Ecological Society of America meeting last week (all-virtual meeting this year). Katie’s presentation was based on the work she and some of her summer research interns, including 2017 Norweb Fellow Sergio Sabat Bonilla, have conducted over the last few years in Stebbins Gulch.

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