Prof. Florian P. Schiestl (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
in: 'Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution': "Divergent floral evolution driven by pollinators and herbivores"
by Prof. Florian P. Schiestl (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
Interacting organisms drive plant evolution in various ways, however, we know little about the speed of this process and the traits that are primarily affected. In my group, in the past years, we have used experimental evolution with fast cycling Brassica rapa plants to investigate the effects of different specific pollinators, combinations of pollinators (simulated generalized pollination) as well as combined pollinators and herbivores on plant trait and mating system evolution. In my talk I will present data showing that selection mediated by specific different pollinators drives rapid divergent trait evolution, and switches in mating systems. When combinations of pollinators are used, evolutionary changes are not determined by the most effective pollinator, but plants evolve unique trait combinations, which supports a unique evolutionary trajectory for generalized pollination. Herbivores impact plant evolution mostly through indirect effects on pollinator behavior and lead to rapid increase of selfing. I will further elaborate on how different biotic interactions, as well as their ecological context, shape phenotypic selection and floral adaptation in the field.