Research Seminar: Professor Cris kuhlemeier (Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern)

23 October 2017, 1.00 PM - 23 October 2017, 2.00 PM

Professor Cris kuhlemeier (Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern) Hosted by Dr Jill Harrison

Life Sciences Seminar Room G13/14

The genetics of pollinator-mediated speciation

Abstract:  The genus Petunia (Solanaceae) comprises species that are pollinated by bees, nocturnal hawkmoths or hummingbirds. Rapid adaptation to new pollinators has happened frequently in many different taxonomic groups. For instance, in the Solanaceae the evolution of hummingbird pollination has been documented at least ten times. Shifts in pollinator preferences can lead to reproductive isolation and ultimately speciation. Such shifts require the modification of multiple floral traits, among them visible color, UV absorption, scent, nectar as well as morphology. How can such complex changes happen again and again over short periods of evolutionary time? To elucidate the molecular basis of pollinator-driven adaptation and speciation in Petunia we use a combination of genetics, genomics, biophysics and behavioral ecology. Our data indicate that shifts in pollination syndromes are caused by a limited number of mutations of large phenotypic effect. In fact, even the modification of single genes can strongly affect pollinator preference and thereby cause reproductive isolation. Knowledge of the causative genes gives insight into the process of speciation and helps to resolve phylogenetic relationships in recent radiations.


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