As our summer of research has progressed and I have learned the ways of Monarch maintenance, I am extremely honored to share that I have been invited to complete an honors thesis in the lab. I will start the project at the Biostation and complete it in the fall in Ann Arbor.
My project will consist of researching the trans-generational effects of milkweed grown in elevated CO2 on the Monarch butterfly. The compound that is found in the milkweed that Monarchs use to self-medicate against predators and parasites can be passed through the eggs and sperm to offspring.
I will be raising a parental generation on the manipulated high-medicine milkweed (grown in elevated CO2), mating them together (using multiple genotypes), and then raise all of the offspring on ambient (normal conditions), low-medicine milkweed. I will inoculate half the offspring with a parasite in order to be able to analyze the degree of protection given by the parents to the offspring. I will record their lifespans and spore load and determine how the elevated CO2 influences the amount of medicine passed down to the offspring by the parents.
This project will require an immense amount of work and energy and my senior year will be nothing but relaxed, but I couldn’t be more excited to get this start to my research career under way. I am extremely blessed to have the support of those around me and incredibly thankful of my mentors that have deemed me capable of a project of this magnitude. I can’t wait to get this next chapter of my life underway.
Cover photo depicts the drying milkweed (tropical milkweed) that is part of the daily feeding regime. July, 2017.