Research Project | 2021

Evolution of floral scent variation in Linanthus

Awardee: Ioana Anghel

Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Bio: Ioana Anghel is a fourth year Ph.D. Candidate in the Zapata Lab, studying the evolution of plant diversity. She investigates the process of speciation in the young and highly polymorphic plant genus Linanthus. She is interested in the drivers of diversification and how taxa maintain their phenotypic and genetic identity while co-existing in a small area with the potential to hybridize. Prior to graduate school, she was a biological technician, surveying public lands for rare and invasive species and collecting native seed for restoration projects.

Project Summary: Floral scent facilitates reproductive success in plants with patchy distributions where effective pollinator signaling is crucial to ensure outcrossing. Many desert plants rely on this signaling trait, yet no studies have investigated the evolution of floral fragrance between and within species in a desert plant radiation. The annual plant Linanthus is an ideal system to study scent evolution because species display conspicuous fragrance profiles and species pairs co-flower temporally and spatially. This work will help reveal the role of floral scent in speciation and in maintaining species boundaries, as well as document a cryptic dimension of biodiversity.