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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - March 04, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Source for DNA sequencing of Opuntia species
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I am trying to do a Opuntia speciation study, and rather just identifying the species by morphological comparison, I would also like to go a little deeper by comparing the DNA sequences in a few of them. I can isolate the DNA, but I don't have the ability or equipment to sequence it. On another note I don't have that much money. Is there a cheap (or relatively affordable) lab I can send it to in order to sequence it? thanks, -Matthew

ANSWER:

Sorry, but we don't have any expertise in the area of DNA sequencing so we don't know any sources.   Since you live in Austin you might contact someone at the University of Texas School of Biological Sciences.  The bio of Dr. Bob Jansen, Chairman of the Department of Integrative Biology reads:

"My primary research interests involve the determination of phylogenetic relationships among plants and genome evolution."

You also might look through recent issues of the Journal of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America (formerly Cactus and Succulent Society Journal) to find someone who is doing similar research on Opuntia or other cacti.   This journal is available at the University of Texas Life Science Library.  You could also contact the Cactus and Succulent Society of America directly.  Other possibilities are the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society, Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

 

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