University of Florida

Daniela Dutra: Research

Research

Cytopodium punctatum, the cigar orchid, is an critically endangered plant in the state of Florida. It is a very large and showy orchid that bears beautiful flowers. Due to its great appeal the species was over collected during the past century and today only a few plants still exist in protected areas.

Logging of cypress trees and over collecting were the main reasons this species became endangered, however, other factors such as the disappearance of the pollinator are currently affecting the survivorship of C. punctatum in the wild.

My research takes place at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and involves an ecological assessment of the species in Southwest Florida. The first step in this direction is a study of the pollination biology and the understanding of the major requirements of this plant in the wild. A propagation protocol is also being developed by using symbiotic and asymbiotic seed germination. In vitro seed germination has been applied to species conservation of native orchids that are rare, threatened, or endangered and can be used to maintain and preserve a diverse gene pool.