From Plant Press Vol. 17 no. 2, April 2014.
Warren Wagner is part of a multidisciplinary team of collaborators led by researchers at the Chicago Botanic Garden researchers, who has received a $1.54 million Dimensions in Biodiversity grant from the National Science Foundation to study the way flowers use scent to attract the pollinators they need to reproduce and survive. The floral scent may also draw flower predators, and this can play an important role in the evolution and diversification of plant species. Chicago Botanic Garden conservation scientist Krissa Skogen is heading the team focusing on four main players: flowers, pollinators, predators and scent. The flowers belong to the evening primrose family, Onagraceae, one of the most diverse plant families growing throughout the western United States. Their pollinators are hawkmoths and bees native to the arid lands. Acting as foe are Mompha micromoths, the only known group of lepidopterans to prey specifically on evening primroses. Both friend and foe are attracted to the plant by the heavy scent produced by the flower. Skogen suspects that scent directs the interplay of flower, friend and foe, and may be a key driver of evolutionary changes in all three.