Thursday, June 14, 2007

Japanese Knotweed Sampling

The knotweed patch

Last week, with the help of my stewardship team, I participated in a scientific study that seeks to identify genetic variation in Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) that is growing in North America. I noticed a posting on the Invasive Species Weblog about a study being performed by Jonna Grimsby at the University of Massachusetts. The post says that they were looking for volunteers in the U.S. who could take samples of plants and send them to her. I sent her an email asking her if she wanted a knotweed sample from Canada since we have plenty here as well. She said yes and sent me a sampling kit.

The Beechwood Wetland site used to be covered with the stuff but most of it was removed in the initial restoration phase. However there is still a large patch on the other side of the road so we took a sample from there. I extracted a large leaf from one plant. The instructions said to cut a 4x4 cm patch from the leaf (you don't need much material to get a good DNA sample). I did that and placed it in the sampling tube. It took all of 10 minutes to do the sampling, but I used the time to educate my team about knotweed issues.

Sampled leaf (before)

Sampled leaf (after)

Sampled leaf and sampling tube

Although Jonna sent a return envelope, the pre-paid US postage wasn't very helpful so I went to the post office and paid for the mailing myself. I was somewhat chagrined to learn that my 250 g package was going to cost $6.20 (CAN) to send out! This was because the sampling tube bulged out too much to be sent as lettermail so it was classified as a package. The clerk asked me what the contents were. I didn't think the post office would be too enthused if I told them I was sending a biological sample so I told a little white lie and wrote down plastic pen (the tube is pen-shaped after all, and it is made of plastic; it just uses JK as an ink source).

I haven't heard anything back from Jonna yet but I presume it will take some time to get the results. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything.

P.S. I noticed Bootstrap Analysis also writing about the sampling study.


Jennifer Forman Orth said...

Love the shot of the knotweed leaf with the square cut out! :-)

Ferdzy said...

Well, that was quick! Thanks for commenting on my new blog. Glad you enjoyed the salad.