Everyday evolution: insects and plants

Marc Johnson, Assistant Professor

of Biology at UTM and grad faculty in EEB, uses field experiments to test whether insects drive the evolution of plant defenses. Experimental plots that were kept free of insect pests showed different evolutionary trajectories compared to the control plots. The experiment has tracked the number and types of plants colonizing the plots over a 5 years. Moreover they analyzed change in frequencies of evening primrose genotypes and the traits associated with these genotypes. Results from this experiment were recently published in

Science 5 October 2012: 338: 113-116 DOI: 10.1126/science.1225977

Insect Herbivores Drive Real-Time Ecological and Evolutionary Change in Plant Populations

Anurag A. Agrawal, Amy P. Hastings, Marc T. J. Johnson, John L. Maron, Juha-Pekka Salminen

Marc Johnson

See more in

U of T news article and the following papers:

Agrawal, A.A., Johnson, M.T.J., Hastings, A.P., & Maron, J.L. 2012 A field experiment demonstrating plant life-history evolution and its eco-evolutionary feedback to seed predator populations. American Naturalist (In press. DOI: 10.1086/666727).

Turley, N.E., Odell, W.C., Schaefer, H., Everwand, G., Crawley, M.J., & Johnson, M.T.J. 2012 Rapid evolution of plant growth rate following experimental removal of herbivores. American Naturalist (In press).