My Research part 1-Plastic Plant Plasticity

Hi and welcome to the very first entry of the My Research blog series. In this series, each of the scientific researchers working at Steart will introduce themselves, their motivations and most importantly there exciting research! The first entry comes from our very own Ryan Edge as he introduces us to the world of plant plasticity.

Hi I am Ryan Edge, PhD researcher, plant lover and proud owner of the muddiest pair of wellington boots in Manchester Metropolitan University.  Having previously studied multiple areas of marine biology I first became interested in saltmarsh 18 months ago, when I joined up with Hannah and Peter, to form a small group of saltmarsh researchers based at Manchester metropolitan University. Who has the muddiest wellies may be a debateable topic, but our group is united in its dedication to researching saltmarsh up and down the country. We take a special interest in the developments at Steart as we are primarily interested in improving restoration of saltmarsh. Between us, we cover many aspects of saltmarsh ecology and you can read about Hannah and Peter’s research in the next instalments of “My Research”.

My primary interest is in plant plasticity. Plasticity is just a fancy word to describe differences in how the plants grow. Big leaves, little leaves, tall plants, short plants, are all examples of plasticity in plants. Salt marsh species show large variations in there growth but currently no one understand why! The picture at the top of this post shows just how varied these plants can be. The picture is of two plants of the same species. Both are saltmarsh grass and where grown in exactly the same conditions in my grown house.  The essence of my research can be boiled down to two questions relating to that image. Why is one plant different to the other? and what does that mean for saltmarsh restoration? I am trying to uncover what causes such variability in saltmarsh plants, by looking at the environment, such as how wet or salty the ground they grown in is, as well as the genetics of these plants.  I am also working hard to understand how this variability changes between natural saltmarsh and restored saltmarsh and how this may affect the development of new sites.


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