Project ESR4: Plantago major L. Travel tales of a worldwide weed

Phd Fellow: Natalie Iwanycki

Supervision: Dr. Nina Rønsted

Host Institution: Natural History Museum of Denmark

Co-supervisors: Dr. Henrik Toft Simonsen and Prof. Hans Christian Bruun Hansen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Dr. Nyree J. C. Zerega, Chicago Botanic Gardens (AC12).

This project will use genetic and chemical fingerprinting and soil type data to explain migration routes of Plantago major populations across the globe and predict the development of chemotypes from migration routes and habitat.

About the project:

The common or broad-leaved plantain, Plantago major L., is used as herbal remedy in many parts of the world. Although native to Europe, this weedy species has spread to every continent, except Antarctica. Known by Native Americans as “white man’s footprint”, P.major has followed Europeans throughout their travels, flourishing wherever white man had been. Using genetic fingerprinting, this project will trace migration routes of Plantago major around the globe. Plantago major will also be used to explore whether the amount and type of chemical compounds in the leaves are determined by genetics or by the environment the plant grows in. Plant and soil samples will be collected for this research from 50 sites from around the world.

Duration: 3 years – start March 1st 2014.