Allen Herre
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Allen Herre

My collaborators and I study the functional and evolutionary consequence of interactions between different organisms. Our primary study organisms are the 20+ local species of figs and their associates (pollinator / parasitic wasps / nematodes / wolbachia / fungi). We also work with different groups of microorganisms (e.g., mycorrhizal, foliar endophytic and pathogenic fungi) that interact with a suite of tropical host plants (e.g., Theobroma cacao, the source of chocolate, for which we have a genomic tools). We are particularly interested in documenting the benefits and costs that are associated with specific interactions. For example, with respect to endophytic fungi, our group has shown that endophytic fungi help protect a host plant from pathogen damage, yet the endophytes also consume part of the plant, reduce its photosynthetic capacity, shifts in the stable isotope signatures of carbon and nitrogen, and cause major shifts in host gene expression. With respect to figs and pollinator wasps, we have shown that host figs largely insure good pollination behaviour in the wasps by “punishing” wasps that do not pollinate; however, wasps occasionally pollinate the “wrong” tree species and thereby produce hybrids and extremely complicated patterns of speciation in their hosts.

Suggested Reading
  • Mejía, L.C., E. I. Rojas, Z. Maynard, A. E. Arnold, S.A. Van Bael, G. J. Samuels, N. Robbins, and E.A. Herre  (2008) Endophytic fungi as biocontrol agents of Theobroma cacao pathogens. Biological Control 46: 4-14. 

  • Herre, E.A., K.C. Jander, and C.A. Machado (2008) Evolutionary ecology of figs and their associates: ongoing progress and outstanding puzzles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. 39:  439-458.

  • Mangan, S.A., S.A. Schnitzer, E.A., Herre, K. Mack, M.I. Valencia, E. Sanchez, and J.D. Bever (2010) Negative plant-soil feedbacks predict relative species abundance in a tropical forest. Nature 466: 752-755.