Rebecca Molina

Rebecca Molina

The Effect of Herbivore Interactions on Plant and Seed Development


Rebecca Molina, Phil Hahn


Dr. Phil Hahn


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


Within plant-herbivore interactions, insects are the greatest cause of seed production loss. Some species of plants have developed defenses to mitigate these losses, with common techniques involving the overproduction and underproduction of their seeds. Baptisia alba is a perennial legume that is commonly predated by a weevil species, Trichapion rostrum. In our study, we aimed to see which Baptisia alba sites and plants, were the most affected by weevils and the defenses they lacked against them. We also sought to understand the general impact that weevils had on Baptisia alba seeds as a whole. To test our hypotheses, Baptisia alba plants were gathered and sorted from four sites in Wisconsin. Notches were used as the comparing factor against weevil presence when testing susceptibility in individual plants, as they represented how many seeds could be produced in a given pod at a time. Our results confirmed a significant relationship between weevil presence and seed damage, but almost no variation between sites, suggesting that more varied environments need to be brought into our sample. We also found that the relationship between notches and weevil presence showed a stronger correlation, but not enough for it to be significant. These illustrate the pervasive nature of weevils and the need for different factors to be accounted in plant susceptibility to better predict plant defenses from herbivores.


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Research Pitch

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