Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Robert Wyatt (Director), Albert Meier, and Claire Rinehart

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The Bromeliaceae family utilizes a wide range of adaptations to inhabit a variety of environments including dry ones. Many attribute the large adaptive radiation of Bromeliaceae throughout the Neotropics to three main features: absorptive trichomes, tank reservoirs, and CAM photosynthesis. Based on leaf morphology and arrangement, root type, and nutrient acquisition, Pittendrigh (1948) conservatively separated bromeliads into four main classes. These four main classes are designated Type I bromeliads, Type II bromeliads, Type III bromeliads and Type IV bromeliads. We used RNA-sequencing of leaf mRNA to investigate similarities and differences in gene expression which can be related back to the four distinct leaf morphologies in the Bromeliaceae family. We found several transcripts relating to the presence of a tank and absorptive trichomes. In addition, we found evidence of varying forms of carbohydrate synthesis for carbon storage during CAM photosynthesis. Lastly, transcriptomics differences indicate different drought survival strategies, with the most extreme differences occurring between Aechmea nudicaulis and Tillandsia gardneri. This study identified transcripts related to the morphological gradient and highlighted how each ecological type has a particular set of adaptations and strategies for survive in a particular regime.


Botany | Plant Sciences

Included in

Botany Commons