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Evolution in Invasive Species: New World/Old World Comparisons


IGERT Associate, Richard Lankau, and IGERT PI Strauss explored selection from specialist and generalist herbivores in the New World on plant defenses in introduced black mustard, an Old World native. They examined selection on plants from many native, Old World, and invasive New World populations. They found that generalist mollusks favored greater investment in sinigrin in the New World, and that New World populations tend to have greater levels of sinigrin than Old World populations

Address Goals

As a result of this work, Strauss and Lankau developed a collaboration with Spanish scientist Dr. Jose Maria Gomez at the University of Granada to understand how natural selection operates on sinigrin content of black mustard in its native and in its introduced range. Cross-continental experiments will document how differences in native and novel communities may cause different evolutionary trajectories of invasive species in their novel habitats. Lankau, Strauss and Gomez are now co-PIs on a Spanish-funded grant to explore these questions, as a result of the data collected from their IGERT-funded project.