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How Many More Thymes & Herbivore Defense

Author(s): Sheryl Konrad1, Angela Dassow1

Carthage College

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Description

The original case addresses several concepts related to the evolutionary ecology of herbivore defenses. This adaptation features consideration of ecological pleiotropy in Nicotiana plants, which are pollinated by Manduca sexta moths that also lay their eggs on the plant's leaves, thereby challenging the plant with herbivory. Terpenes are differentially regulated in Nicotiana flowers and leaves based on environmental cues, and our adaptation invites students to consider how and why this happens. After reading a phys.org News article summarizing recent research into these phenomena and participating in guided discussion, students have the opportunity for further practice in developing hypotheses, posing potential experiments, and planning realistic data collection procedures. This adaptation incorporates sensory observations and plant chemotype predictions in thyme varieties, group discussion, informal presentations to the class, and analysis of experimental design as central activities. We taught the original case study with these adaptions in three 35-45 minute periods in an introductory majors course that meets 3x weekly for 2 hr. 20 min. (combined lecture/lab studio format).

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