Plant interactions with other plants My current research focuses on plant communication and behaviour, including plant kin recognition. Plants live in highly social environments, and they do behave, though very slowly. Plants sense the presence of other plants, and then respond, usually by producing a more competitive phenotype. Responses to cues of neighbours are thus important in competition. My lab has worked on plant responses to aboveground cues, the presence/absence of belowground neighbours, and the relatedness of belowground neighbours. We collaborate with Dr. Harsh Bais, University of Delaware, on research into the underlying mechanisms for responses to relatives. Adaptation to abiotic stresses My research program on the evolution of plant carbon acquisition traits has included studies that integrate the physiological ecology of drought stress with the natural selection on drought stress traits, and genetic differentiation between populations from environments differing in water availability. A former student, Laura Beaton developed a research program on adaptation of plants to roadside stresses, including salinity and manganese. I collaborate with Dr. Lisa Donovan, University of Georgia, in understanding how plant physiological traits evolve under stress.
Ecology & Evolution