Potential Role of Phenolics in Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum Spicatum) Invasion Success

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Although the detrimental effects of invasive aquatic plants like Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) are well documented, the factors leading to successful aquatic plant invasions are poorly understood. High levels of chemical feeding deterrents in invasive plant species may be at least partially responsible when invasive plants overgrow and dominate the invaded community. To investigate the role of phenolics in Eurasian watermilfoil invasions, whole M. spicatum (invasive) and Ceratophyllum demersum (native) plants were collected from Osbourndale Pond in Derby, Connecticut during September 2016 and frozen at -80°C until phenolic analysis. Colorimetric assays were used to measure total phenolic and condensed tannin content of the two plant species. A choice feeding experiment was conducted to determine if phenolics produced by M. spicatum affected feeding by amphipods, the dominate herbivore at our study site. Artificial diets were prepared by incorporating palatable fish food into an agar matrix and pouring the agar food over window screen. The control diet contained only a palatable food, while the gallic acid diet contained the palatable food plus gallic acid at a concentration common in M. spicatum. Amphipods were simultaneously offered the control food and the gallic acid treated food. The number of squares that were cleared of food after 48 hours was recorded. Data analysis is currently underway, but results from this study can shed light on the role of phenolics in aquatic plant invasion success.


Eastern Colleges Science Conference, Wilkes-Barre, PA April 2017. E-108. Program retrieved from http://www.ecsc1.org/2017.html

Mentored by LaTina Steele

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