A computational investigation of folding free energy surfaces and structural characterization of Staphylococcal Protein A



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Invasive plants disrupt native ecosystems and decrease native plant diversity. Under strong selection pressure, native plants sometimes adapt to better compete with an invasive species. My research investigates two variants of the annual forb Coreopsis that co-occur with the invasive forb Verbena brasiliensis. The objective of my research is to answer three questions: (1) Is an observed phenotypic variant Coreopsis more competitive than the wild type C. tinctoria? (2) If so, what traits potentially make it more competitive?, (3) Is it an adapted variety of C. tinctoria or a related species? Whether or not it is a separate species, the existence of a more competitive variant may provide an effective replacement for the wild-type C. tinctoria in native restoration projects within the range of V. brasiliensis. Results suggest that the invasive V. brasiliensis does not significantly suppress the biomass of the phenotypic variant C. tinctoria as much as that of the wild-type C. tinctoria. Furthermore, the variant produces significantly more flowers than the wild type suggesting it would be more competitive with the invasive plant than the wild type. The stark difference in growth habits between the two varieties of C. tinctoria suggests the variant may be a closely related species that converge in appearance at maturity.



Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences