Shaw's Agave & Irish Strawberry


About This Project


Shaw's Agave

In collaboration with National Park Services, we study the origin and genetic diversity of agave utilizing phylogenetic analysis and plant-specific microbial diversity using 16s rRNA sequencing within Point Loma Cabrillo National Monument. Shaw’s Agave suffered habitat loss along the Border Crossing due to construction of the border fence. Various other factors (topography, pests, soil chemistry , microbial diversity, and long reproductive cycles) may also have contributed to the population’s decline.

We have gathered tissue and soil samples from Pt. Loma, the Border Crossing, Rosarito (MX), and Arroyo Hondo (MX) to determine genetic variation and other variables within and between four distinct geographic sites affecting Agave's biodiversity. 


Irish Strawberry

Were all of the Carl Linnaeus's taste buds functional? 

Linnaeus is the "father of modern taxonomy"  who categorized species based mostly on their morphology. In the 1700s, Linnaeus famously named the Irish Strawberry apparently relying on other characteristics as “Arbutus unedo” meaning "eat only one"? This taxonomic classification implies that the fruit born from this plant are not pallet-pleasing. 

We respectfully disagree with Linneaus: this project aims to redeem the Irish Strawberry as a nutrient-rich (and tasty) fruit through chemical analyses. Moreover, by barcoding the DNA and performing phylogenetic analysis, we will assign Irish Strawberry its' rightful place on the "Tree of Life".

*For more information about these projects please contact:


Sora Haagensen


Research Progress

Sampling Agave shawii shawii tissue and soil extraction from Cabrillo National Monument. 

DNA extraction of Agave shawii shawii plant tissue to determine phylogeny and biodiversity of samples from different sites.

Final poster presentation session and award ceremony.  "Barcoding genes rbcL and matK reveal Shaw's Agave genetic diversity while Biolog EcoPlates quantify variation in microbial substrate utilization within Pt. Loma Cabrillo National Monument" presented by first cohort participants Alexa Villa, Maizy Rogers, and Sora Haagensen.