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Championing Plant Diversity

We are rapidly losing biodiversity in our protected Texas grasslands.

Kerri Crawford, UH ecologist, studies the plant diversity in the Texas grasslands in the vicinity of Houston. 

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Grasslands absorb rainwater and mitigate flooding, and the plant diversity attracts pollinators such as monarch butterflies.

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From spring to late fall, Crawford’s lab surveys plants, sets up experiments and collects soil samples from the UH Coastal Center. This field station 30 miles south of the University consists of 300 acres of coastal prairie.

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Just as humans have bacteria and fungi as a part of their microbiomes, plants have microbiomes, too. Some of the microbes are good and some, not so good. And they are highly susceptible to precipitation and other weather conditions.

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“Microbes are an organic, natural part of the ecosystem,” said Crawford. “Working alongside the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Cullen College of Engineering, our research may eventually help us to engineer plant-associated microbes.” 

Read more stories about UH research impacting the city of Houston.

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