My research in the Smith lab has once again taken me to the Southern hemisphere! We are compiling a large transcriptomic dataset from across the Petunieae sub-family of the Solanaceae family. This work necessitates sampling from individuals of this group in their native habitats, which are found primarily in South America. On this trip I first traveled to Brazil and then to Argentina, collecting samples along the way. In total my colleagues and I were able to collect samples from 16 species from the Calibrachoa, Petunia, Brunfelsia, and Nierembergia genera.
During my time in Brazil I worked and traveled with two students from the lab of Loreta Brandão de Freitas at UFRGS in Porto Alegre, Alice Backes and Pedro Pezzi. I flew to Porto Alegre from Denver and from there we made our way in a rental car to the North. Our trip took us first up the coast and then into the beautiful highlands region of Serra do Rio do Rastro. From there we then traversed forests, hills, and valleys collecting samples from a list of Solanaceae species: Calibrachoa heterophylla, Calibrachoa sellowiana, Calibrachoa sendtneriana, Calibrachoa linoides, Petunia reitzii, Calibrachoa eglandulata, Petunia altiplana, and Brunfelsia cuneifolia. After collecting samples, we made our way back to Porto Alegre where I spent the remainder of the Brazil trip preparing RNA-seq libraries.
In Argentina, I once again traveled with my colleague Rocío Deanna (webpage). We traveled from Iguazu Falls on the Northern Brazil-Argentina border South and West through the provinces of Misiones and Corrientes. We then made our way to Buenos Aires to meet with another collaborator, Julian Greppi at INTA Castelar, who was kind enough to show us around the greenhouses and allow us to collect samples from a new species of Petunia, P. correntina. On the trip, we collected samples from Petunia gurapuavensis, Petunia inflata, Petunia interior, Calibrachoa ovalifolia, Calibrachoa longistyla, Petunia correntina, Brunfelsia pilosa, and Nierembergia rivularis as well as Lantana camara and Lantana megapotamica for an unrelated project in the lab.
This journey (running from October 7th through October 30th) took me through a beautiful array of ecosystems and also gave me a chance to experience the culture, food, and language of the two largest countries in South America. Prior to my postdoc I had no experience doing field work, so I have been relishing the rich opportunity for learning new skills and gaining new experiences that comes along with it. It’s very satisfying to be able to connect molecular data and analyses done in the lab with real living organisms that I collected in the wild with my own hands. It provides a different perspective on the connection between the molecular details and the biology that is operating on a larger scale.
See below for some photos of the trip:
Calibrachoa heterophylla growing on the coast, Torres, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
The highlands of Serra do Rio do Rastro, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Calibrachoa sellowiana, Serra do Rio do Rastro, Santa Catarina, Brazil
The red-flowered Calibrachoa sendtneriana, Serra do Rio do Rastro, Santa Catarina, Brazil
The highland habitat of Calibrachoa sendtneriana, Serra do Rio do Rastro, Santa Catarina, Brazil
The flowers of Calibrachoa linoides near Urubici, Santa Catarina, Brazil
A burrowing owl perched on a fence near Paraiso da Serra, Santa Catarina, Brazil
The incredible flowers of Petunia reitzii near Paraiso da Serra, Santa Catarina, Brazil
The flowers of Calibrachoa eglandulata near Uburici, Santa Catarina, Brazil
A road through the forest with visible Araucaria angustofolia, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Petunia altiplana near Pedras Brancas, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Flower of Brunfelsia cuneifolia North of Vacaria, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Me collecting Brunfelsia cuneifolia North of Vacaria, Santa Catarina, Brazil
The UFRGS Campus do Vale, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
The grandeur of Iguazú Falls, Misiones, Argentina
Black-throated Trogon, Iguazu Falls NP, Misiones, Argentina
Lantana camara, Iguazu Falls NP, Misiones, Argentina
Passion flower, Iguazu Falls NP, Misiones, Argentina
Petunia guarapuavensis, near Iguazu Falls NP, Misiones, Argentina
Argentine black and white Tegu consuming a bird, Cruce Caballero Provincial Park, Misiones, Argentina
Brunfelsia pilosa, Cruce Caballero Provincial Park, Misiones, Argentina
Rocío Deanna examining a Brunfelsia, Cruce Caballero Provincial Park, Misiones, Argentina
Path through the forest, Cruce Caballero Provincial Park, Misiones, Argentina
Nierembergia rivularis, Mburucuyá, Corrientes, Argentina
Nierembergia rivularis flower, Mburucuyá, Corrientes, Argentina
The road to Mburucuyá, Corrientes, Argentina
A sneaky snake of the genus Philodryas near Mburucuyá, Corrientes, Argentina
Petunia inflata near Entrada de Garruchos, Corrientes, Argentina
Searching for Calibrachoa longistyla on the abandoned train tracks, Santo Tome, Corrientes, Argentina
Termite mound South of Virasora, Corrientes, Argentina
Calibrachoa ovalifolia South of Virasora, Corrientes, Argentina
Petunia interior East of San Pedro, Misiones, Argentina
Petunia correntina at INTA Castelar, Buenos Aires, Argentina
For additional plant and wildlife observations please see my iNaturalist page.