Johan Ehrlén, professor at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences has together with colleagues at Uppsala University recently published a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. (PNAS). The study shows that a prominent floral display increases the attractiveness to pollinators but also the risk of damage from herbivores in an insect-pollinated primrose. The study uses experiments to show that differences in the relative strength of interactions with grazers and pollinators can explain variation in selection on floral display among natural populations. The study also demonstrates that differences in selection translate into rather rapid changes in the genetic composition of local plant populations. The results indicate that interactions with mutualists and antagonists can drive adaptive differentiation not only across broad geographic scales but also among populations across relatively short distances.

Ågren, J., Hellström, F., Toräng, P. & Ehrlén, J. 2013. Mutualists and antagonists drive among-population variation in selection and evolution of floral display in a perennial herb. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. Published ahead of print October 21, 2013.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1301421110