Featured Project: Cats Nails: A parasitic plant of South Africa

Jarrett Byrnes

Today’s featured project, Cats Nails: A parasitic plant of South Africa by Andi Wolf at Ohio State.

“Wait, wait,” I hear you saying, “a parasitic plant?! I mean, OK, it took me long enough to wrap my brain around things like parasitic barnacles or zombified parasitized fish, but a PLANT?!?!”

Yes, I realize that parasitism seems to kind of be a thing here at #SciFund, and plants are no exception! Cats Nails is a plant that taps into other plants roots and sucks the nutrients right out of the others.

Weird, right?

What a beautiful parasite!

Andi’s project is looking at what kinds of ecosystems favor Cats Nails and what might happen if Cats Nails might disappear from an ecosystem. While you may think that it will be a boon to all of the plants around it, Cats Nails may serve a key role in the ecosystem – holding back over-eager dominant plants from squashing the diversity of other plants around it.

Andi’s proposal is a wonderful example of immersing a funder in the entire project. Her video hits every detail of the project – from the cultural background the research is embedded within to the very biology of her target species. And she even offers some great opportunities to become part of the work in her rewards! Field trip to South Africa anyone?

So head on over to #SciFund parasitic plant research!