Coercing insects to carry genetic material from one plant to another has resulted in many creative adaptations. Plants in the Arum genus often trap dung-seeking pollinators by producing heat and volatilizing feces-like fragrances. Our aim is to measure the evolutionary consequences of the chemical ecology involved in this outcrossing strategy: deceptive pollination.
Portland State University | Dr. Daniel Ballhorn
Keywords: Plant defense | nitrogen-fixing rhizobia | tritrophic interactions | Phasolus lunatus
Plant families able to form a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, such as legumes with rhizobia, are relatively rare, but occur in most terrestrial ecosystems. Legume-rhizobia symbioses have been long-recognized to play critical roles in geochemical cycling and plant productivity, acclaimed as ecosystem engineers and keystone species. Gaining organic nitrogen (N) in exchange for photo-assimilated carbon (C) aids plants in overcoming soil nitrogen limitations, relevant both ecologically and agriculturally.
How does symbiotic resource exchange influence food webs beyond plant productivity? How do rhizobia influence aboveground food webs from the bottom-up by mediating plant defense chemistry and tritrophic interactions?