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USING YCF1 TO INVESTIGATE THE LADIES' TRESSES ORCHIDS OF AU'S SUMMERVILLE CAMPUSThe Spring Ladies� Tresses orchid (Spiranthes vernalis�Engelmann & A. Gray) is a native wildflower found in the lawns of Augusta University's Summerville campus. The origin of these plants is unknown. Orchids usually grow slowly from seed, leading to lifecycles that can take 5+ years. Despite this, individuals are present in lawns known to be two years old or less. Thus, either these plants are reproducing with unusual speed, or some arrived with landscaping materials such as sod. We are attempting to use chloroplast DNA sequences to determine their degree of relatedness. �For this, a strongly conserved gene,�MATk, and a hypothetical reading frame,�ycf1, were chosen.�YCF1�is considered variable enough to show differences at the population level. Standard techniques for DNA extraction, amplification with PCR, and sequencing are being used. �The data will be used to address two questions: �1) Is�ycf1�variable enough to distinguish among individual plants?; and, if so, 2) Are the campus plants all closely related or do distinctive subpopulations exist?