LEARN BY DOING: MICROSCOPIC STUDIES OF A PLANT PARASITE, ORANGE RUST, GYMNOCONIA SP. (PHRAGMIDIACEAE)
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Microscopy is an exciting, hands-on, active learning resource for students that can inspire a lifelong interest in science. As part of the Quality Enhancement Plan entitled ‘Pioneering Pathways: Learn by Doing’ at our University, an ecology class project was developed for use of different forms of microscopy to study the ecological relationships between Mock strawberry and its parasite. Orange rust is a common disease of both wild and cultivated Rosaceae. Samples of Mock strawberry leaves infected with the fungus were observed using light and electron microscopes. Microscopy analyses revealed the presence of spores with spiky surfaces in leaf lesions. This project helped me 1) develop scanning electron microscopy skill and 2) understand the adaptations of Orange rust for dissemination and the parasitic relationship between Mock strawberry and Orange rust.