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Molecular and metabolic mechanisms linking crop pollination and defence against pests and pathogens.

Plants use an array of secondary metabolites to defend against attack by pests and pathogens. This project focuses on wild and cultivated tomato species, which exhibit striking variation in their defences, and their bumblebee pollinators. It will involve experiments to characterize induced flower responses to herbivores and pathogens, using state-of-the-art metabolomics platforms, and tissue-specific transcriptomics to identify genes underlying these responses.

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Plant diversity and rapid insect adaptation: how do we predict the next threat to plant health?

Climate change is causing the migration of many species to new habitats. For herbivorous arthropods such as insects and mites, a major barrier to successful establishment in new habitats is whether they can rapidly adapt to use new species of plants with complex nutritional and chemical characteristics. This project will examine the role of plant defensive diversity for arthropod adaptation. It will combine experimental evolution with comparative metabolomics and phylogenetic/genomic approaches to study the process of rapid adaptation in real time.

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