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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower Improvement Research » Research » Research Project #445009

Research Project: Insect Responses to Intraspecific Floral Trait Variation in Asteraceae

Location: Sunflower Improvement Research

Project Number: 3060-21000-047-018-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 1, 2024
End Date: Mar 31, 2027

(1) Examine intraspecific variation in floral traits of wild and cultivated Asteraceae, and (2) Evaluate effects of floral trait variation on insect preference or visitation.

Research directed at providing floral resources for pollinators typically has been focused on determining the plant species that provide the greatest floral rewards (nectar and pollen). However, research in various plants including cultivated sunflower shows significant intraspecific variation for floral rewards and other related traits which may influence pollinator attraction. As an initial step to testing a novel method to improve resources for pollinators, species of wild and cultivated Asteraceae will be evaluated for intraspecific variation in floral traits (rewards and visual or olfactory cues that may signal rewards). After selection of contrasting genotypes, responses of pollinators to trait variation will be evaluated under field conditions. This work is intended to complement the current CRIS project (3060-21000-047-000-D) Subobjective 2B “Evaluate plant genetic and environmental effects on nectar and pollen rewards.” The results should help determine whether selection or planting of germplasm with specific floral traits or trait combinations is a viable strategy to enhance resources needed by pollinators from crop and non-crop plants.