Most of my work studying the genus Camelina has utilized specimens I collected in their native range of Turkey and the Caucasus. I have largely ignored those cosmopolitan Camelina species which occur commonly throughout the United States, mainly because of the assumption that they harbor little genetic diversity as a result of their recent introduction. However, I have started a new study to understand how plants adapt (and respond plastically) to different climatic regimes. One major component of climatic adaptation in seed plants is thought to be differences in seed oil composition which regulates the seed's ability to utilize the energy stored as fats at different temperatures.
The purpose of this collection trip was predominately to collect plants across as wide of a latitudinal gradient as possible to make comparisons between climate and seed fatty acid composition. The Eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains provides an excellent habitat for Camelina and spans a large latitudinal range, and thus the focus of these collections. Along with my undergraduate research assistant (Amy Lee), I embarked on a ten day journey in search of Camelina. We traveled across seven U.S. states, drove over 5,000 miles, and collected Camelina from over 50 unique localities spanning 12 degrees of latitude.
We started our collections at the lower latitudes working our way up. Our first destination was New Mexico:
From New Mexico we worked our way up through Southern Colorado along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains and its foothills.
From Colorado we drove all the way through Wyoming and Montana, going as far north as the Canadian border before heading back.
And of course, no expedition is complete without a little bit of sight-seeing!
Stay tuned for more about our findings from this study!