Scent-mediated diversification of flowers and moths

We commonly think of floral scent for its role in attracting pollinators, but it can also be a cue for floral and seed predators. This project integrates chemical ecology and comparative genomics to explore the impact of past selective pressures on current patterns of diversity in non-model organisms: evening primroses, hawk moths, bees, and micro moths.

Onagraceae (evening primrose family) is one of the most species-rich families of night-blooming plants in North America. Many Onagraceae, particularly species in tribe Onagreae, produce floral scent that likely attracts pollinators (hawk moths, bees). The same floral characteristics (color, shape, scent) that attract pollinators are also suspected to attract floral antagonists to host plants. Mompha is one such moth genus that specializes on Onagraceae. Three dimensions of biodiversity will be integrated through studies of (1) floral trait variation, (2) its genetic basis, and (3) their roles in driving patterns of diversity in Onagreae and Mompha