Neuroecology of plant-pollinator interactions

Understanding the neural basis of behavior by pollinators to the scent from flowers presents exciting opportunities towards understanding how the central nervous system controls mutualistic interactions. When coupled to field observations, behavioral experiments, and chemical analyses this electrophysiological approach presents an exciting method towards understanding important ecological interactions.

Towards this end, the Riffell laboratory examines the olfactory basis of pollinator preferences using a variety of different pollinators (moths: Manduca sexta, Hyles lineata; bees: Bombus occidenalis, Apis mellifera; and dipterans: Musca domestica, Anopheles gambaie) and the scents from flowers that are pollinated by one of these pollinator classes. This work integrates chemical analytical techniques (GCMS, HPLC); electrophysiological methods including multi-channel recordings, and intracellular recordings; and behavioral experiments and field manipulations.