Student Support: Contact:
THE SYSTEM. Physalis longifolia (Solanaceae) is a native perennial plant common in young fields in northern Virginia. It interacts with various insects, but most tend to be specialized. The dominant pollinator in this region is the bee Colletes latitaris, which collects pollen only from the genus Physalis. The prominent herbivores are all specialists of the Solanaceae and include the leaf beetle Lema trilineata, the caterpillar Manduca sexta (tobacco hornworm) and flea beetles. The primary frugivore is the specialist noctuid moth Heliothis subflexa, whose caterpillar consumes only Physalis fruits and may destroy a large percentage of a year's fruit production. Physalis longifolia reproduces asexually through rhizomes. Thus, reproduction is a combination of above- and below-ground activity mediated by interactions with mutualists and antagonists.
Research Questions to be asked are open to student interest but can include the impact of any of the interacting insects on host plant reproduction, the interactions of the insects among themselves, the influence of plant chemistry on herbivory or frugivory, the important heritable or plastic plant traits that influence interactions, or any combinations of factors.
Support: Student will be supported by a half-time teaching assistantship in the Environmental Sciences Department at the University of Virginia and a half-time research assistantship. The research assistantship includes a summer stipend and free housing at Blandy Experimental Farm, where the research will take place.
Contact: T'ai Roulston <email@example.com>
Go To My Home Page
Colletes latitarsis, a specialist pollinator and Epeolus bifasciatus, a parsite of Colletes, but also a pollinator of the same host plant. Both bees are marked for individual identification.
The herbivore Lema trilineata (eggs, adult, and larvae defoliating Physalis).
Specialist caterpillar Heliothis subflexa comsuming a Physalis fruit. An individual caterpillar consumes 3-4 fruits to mature.