Cat’s claw creeper vine, Dolichandra unguis-cati (L.) Lohmann (syn. Macfadyena unguis-cati (L.) Gentry) (Bignoniaceae), a native of South and Central America, was introduced to Australia as an ornamental plant in the late 1800s, but is now a major environmental woody weed along south-eastern coastal regions. 

In Australia, two morpho-phenologically distinct forms of D. unguis-cati occur. These forms have been informally referred to as long pod (LP) and short pod (SP) plants, based on their average (+ SE) fruit length at maturity (LP plant 70.024 ± 2.35 cm; SP plant: 30.089 ± 8.96 cm). A comprehensive seed germination of the two forms also shows significant variation in their responses to environmental resources of light and temperature, with the short form having greater niche breadth. 

Polyembryony (occurrence of seeds giving rise to multiple, independent seedlings) was found more prevalent in the SP form of the weed. These empirical observations made us to postulate that the two forms may be different species, products of two independent introductions from the native range of the weed, or might have arose from (auto-/allo-) polyploidy (chromosome/genome duplication).

You'll collect propagule of LP and SP forms of Cat's claw creeper vine from between 6 and 10 populations around the Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions.

You'll then germinate the seeds in growth chambers and, using root and/or shoot tip, you'll:

  1. Detail the event happening during mitosis via light microscopy stains such as aceto-carmine
  2. Use chromosome count techniques (karyotyping) to document the 2n values
  3. Measure genome size (using flow cytometry).

Location: St Lucia and Ecosciences Precinct, Boggo Road

Supervisors: Professor Steve Adkins, Dr K. Dhileepan

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor for more details

Project members

Professor Steve Adkins

Principal Research Fellow
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences