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I am interested in understanding the mechanism of pre-zygotic mate choice in Nicotiana attenuata and its ecological and adaptive implication in long-term seed banks. Previously, we found a strong correlation of stylar ethylene burst, pollen tube growth, and the continuation of floral advertisement with the mate selection in N. attenuata (Bhattacharya and Baldwin, 2012, The Plant Journal). This prompted us to investigate the intricate cascade of post-pollination signaling events in N. attenuata style that preferentially allows pollen tubes from certain genotypes to sire seeds in competitive pollinations. We regularly employ our transgenic toolbox with stable ethylene-mutant transformed lines (eg. irACO and ETR1) which eventually lack the capacity of mate selection and help us to comprehend the underlying signaling process of mate selection. Currently, we are broadening our empirical base on mate choice by investigating whether the observed consistent mate selection among the available genotypes by one ecotype (Utah) is valid for another ecotype (Arizona), with the help of molecular toolbox of microsatellite genotyping exclusively developed for the purpose of seed paternity testing and population structure analysis. Our long-term goal is to explore rigorously the ecological and adaptive implication of the mate selection through ecological platform and in long-term seed bank trials and the field station (USA), to evaluate if the mate choice enhances the adaptive fitness of the offspring and the selective traits for the survival of seeds in the hostile below-ground biotic environment.
last updated on 2016-04-12