Angely Toro Casiano

“Plant Resistance: Changes in Secondary Metabolite Profile of Intercropped Maize”

Project Summary:

Intercropping is an agronomic practice in which two or more crops are grown on the same field at the same time. It has been found that intercropping and plant soil feedback can induce changes in plants’ chemical profile, for example increasing the production of secondary metabolites. The interactions provided by intercropping and plant soil feedback can be found in natural environments and can result in associational resistance or associational susceptibility to herbivores and pathogens attacks. With this framework we wanted to understand how plant neighborhood affects the chemical profile of intercroped maize. To see the changes in the chemical profile of maize two experiments were conducted: plant neighborhood and plant soil feedback. Tissue samples were collected from leaves and roots, on which an herbivore bioassay and tissue extractions to obtain the organic chemical compounds were performed. Based on the data collection it was found that maize intercropped with beans and maize intercropped with alfalfa gain associational resistance and associational susceptibility respectively. It was also found that the different intercropped treatments, the different experiments: plant neighborhood and plant soil feedback, and the different tissue type had an effect in the chemical profile of maize.


My Experience:

I never imagined that the world of plants would be a big part of my student journey. For me plants were just another organism I had to learn about but to my surprise, I found a new world in them. Working in the Ecology and Evolutionary Lab I learned that plant interactions can have the key to medical advancements, agricultural practices and conservation of the environment. As a future environmental consultant, I can say this experience has helped me move a step forward to my goal.

As my first research experience, this summer has been challenging, educational and gratifying. Working with amazing people I learned the importance of teamwork, companionship, and good mentorship. I thank the members of the Kessler Lab for the patience, passion and feedback provided during this summer. I am more than proud of the work I have done this summer and the challenges I have surpassed. I can confidently say that the person who arrived in Ithaca, full of fears and doubts, is a completely different person from the one that is returning home. To my fellow interns, thank you for a fun summer and hope to cross paths again as the professionals we aspire to be. ¡Hasta pronto!