A researcher at the University of Georgia is studying the effects of the gulf oil spill on native plant species.
Geneticist Mike Arnold received $175,000 from The National Science Foundation to help fund his work with irises.
Arnold has spent decades studying the flower’s ability to cope with extreme conditions like hurricanes and drought.
Now he will see how different kinds of irises respond to crude oil and dispersants.
Arnold says irises are good indicators for other plants.
"We can use them as an indicator for other species," said Arnold. "Say this area was heavily impacted because all these different types of irises didn’t survive and this other area has not been impacted and this is what survived here."
Arnold says his research will help determine which species can survive the contaminated conditions and use them to begin repopulating plant life in the region.