TWU researcher Maria Goncharova investigates invasive plant species in B.C.

Maria Goncharova is tracking the growth patterns of knotweed, an invasive plant species in B.C. that is extremely difficult to eradicate, and causes costly damage to city buildings and infrastructure. Her research findings will help predict the potential spread of knotweed seeds by water courses in B.C., as well as aid in invasive species management efforts.

Summers at Trinity Western are full of activity as student researchers pursue their academic passions and develop expertise in their chosen fields.

This summer, five outstanding undergraduate students received federal research grants through the NSERC USRA awards.

Maria Goncharova (BSc Biology), is one of the award winners.

Goncharova’s research findings will help predict the potential spread of knotweed — one of the world’s worst widespread invasive plants causing major economical, biological, and social harm. She will study seed movement by water courses at specific sites in B.C., by mimicking the journey seeds would take as they enter and leave the water system. Through varying the water disturbances, she seeks to investigate knotweed germination, growth rates, and survivability.

This is Goncharova’s third year to receive federal NSERC USRA grant funding to conduct ecological research under the supervision of Dr. David Clements.

In her research, Goncharova has been exploring how knotweed seeds disperse by water ways of various water disturbances. She seeks to determine if seed dispersal by water ways presents an environmental threat. Her research results could help improve the city’s invasive weed management.

During the past two summers, Goncharova discovered that water disturbances of varying degrees had a significant effect on the timing of seed growth stages, from germination through to exhibiting first leaves.

Goncharova’s research findings will help predict the potential spread of knotweed — one of the world’s worst widespread invasive plants causing major economical, biological, and social harm.

Whereas, in previous years, Goncharova conducted research in an indoor laboratory, this year, she hopes to make the research more applicable to real life contexts by conducting her research outdoors.

Goncharova explains that she will be observing seeds that are grown in water tanks of various water disturbances induced by an aeration system. This system mimics closely the journey the seeds would take in the natural environment as they enter a water system.

Building on results gathered from previous years, Goncharova has already learnt that the effect of water disturbances on seeds varied depending on the research site from which the seeds were collected. She reported that Bohemian knotweed strands have large genetic variation between different sites, and this variation induces responses of different magnitudes to different treatments.

This summer, Goncharova is using seeds collected from three different sites that are heavily invaded by Bohemian knotweed: Mission Library, Riverside Road, and Silverdale Creek, B.C.

See alsoSummer research work prepares TWU students for careers in science:​
TWU News

About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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