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Claire Marino

Solanum 'Deaf Adder', a New Bush Tomato Species from the Australian Monsoon Tropics

Claire Marino ’23
Dr. Chris Martine, Dr. Tanisha Williams
Faculty Mentor(s):
Dr. Chris Martine, Biology
Dr. Tanisha Williams, Biology
Funding Source:
David Burpee Research Fund; Bucknell Department of Biology

Australia is a unique island continent with many endemic species. Ongoing research and estimates suggest that over 70% of the flora and fauna have yet to be described across the continent. We are currently investigating one such potential new species currently known to field botanists as Solanum ‘Deaf Adder’, which is named for its only known location in the remote Deaf Adder Gorge within Kakadu National Park. It is currently designated as a localized variant of Solanum asymmetriphyllum, and is a close relative to Solanum sejunctum. However, based on the numerous morphological differences between these three solanums, as well as their geographical separation within the national park, it is more than likely that ‘Deaf Adder’ is a distinct and separate species. More than 30 morphological characters were measured on a greenhouse-grown female ‘Deaf Adder’ specimen, including leaf length, prickle density of the calyces, and seed count per fruit, and then used to document the differences among ‘Deaf Adder’, S. asymmetriphyllum, and S. sejunctum. Future research for this project will include using ImageJ to gather more information and measurements such as leaf area, and conducting data analyses between ‘Deaf Adder’, S. asymmetriphyllum, and S. sejunctum, which will include principal components analyses (PCA), analyses of variance (ANOVA), and post-hoc testing. The objective of this research is to determine if Solanum ‘Deaf Adder’ is its own species, and if so, to describe and name ‘Deaf Adder’ in order to introduce it to the scientific community and to protect it.

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