Frey Indiana Daffodil, Inc. Scholarship

2020 Frey Indiana Daffodil Scholar: Jay Goldberg

Jay Goldberg, a Ph.D. candidate in Distinguished Professor Lynda Delph's lab, studies the evolutionary mechanisms maintaining variation in plant defensive traits. He uses western jimson weed (Datura wrightii) as his study system because of a widespread trichome dimorphism in which some plants feel sticky whereas others are soft to the touch, and both phenotypes can be found coexisiting within populations across the state of California. Using a field observational approach to examine how morph frequencies within populations have changed over a 20-year period, he was able to show that negative frequency-dependent selection—in which rare morphs have a fitness advantage over common ones—is acting on dimorphic D. wrightii. He hopes to use the funds from the Frey award to conduct fieldwork for his final dissertation chapter which investigates the ability of sticky plants to absorb nitrogen from insects that become stuck to their leaves—a phenomenon referred to as 'passive carnivory.'