Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Philip Villani


The central objective of this project is to explore defense systems that are induced in two moss species, Amblystegium serpens and Physcomitrella patens, upon inoculation with the fungus, Pythium irregulare. In vascular plants, systemic defense is associated with the plant hormone salicylic acid (SA). I hypothesize that when the moss are treated exogenously with SA, the organisms will undergo a systemic defense response, which will involve the induction of defense-related genes and increased resistance to future P. irregulare infection, that is directly correlated with the amount of hormone applied. If the role of SA in plant defense in A. serpens and P. patens can be determined, then it may be possible to draw more definitive conclusions regarding when plant defense mechanisms arose in plants. Additionally, a better understanding of plant-pathogen interactions in non-vascular plants may also result in their use as model organisms for plant-pathogen interactions, which could be beneficial for our understanding of how to treat economically important crops, such as Zea mays (com) and Glycine max (soybeans).