Chemical and evolutionary ecology of plant - insect interactions

Systematic Botany

Plants interact with a vast array of insects in antagonistic and mutualistic associations. Among the various channels that mediate the communication between animals and plans, chemical signals are often of key importance, yet their ecological and molecular background is little understood. My research interests focus on plant – pollinator interactions, since pollinators determine mating patterns in plant populations and can thus greatly influence floral evolution in plants. My interests regard pollinator behaviour, plant reproduction, and floral signals, including their molecular bases and patterns of variation. A fascinating phenomenon is the evolution of rewardless flowers that attract pollinators by imitating rewarding flowers (food deception) or female insects (sexual deception). In such mimetic systems, I am interested in the mechanisms and evolutionary consequences of floral mimicry (adaptive radiations) in different plant lineages.

Recent Publications

  • Crab spiders impact floral-signal evolution indirectly through removal of florivores
    Knauer, Anina C.; Bakhtiari, Moe; Schiestl, Florian P.
  • Trans-generational inheritance of herbivory-induced phenotypic changes in Brassica rapa 
    Kellenberger, Roman T.; Desurmont, Gaylord A.; Schluter, Philipp M.; et al. 
  • The function of the floral corona in the pollination of a Mediterranean style dimorphic daffodil 
    Perez-Barrales, R.; Abarca, C. A.; Santos-Gally, R.; et al. 
    PLANT BIOLOGY, 20: 118-127 JAN 2018 Article (Details)
  • Innate Receiver Bias: Its Role in the Ecology and Evolution of Plant-Animal Interactions 
    Schiestl, Florian P. 
    ANNUAL REVIEW OF ECOLOGY, EVOLUTION, AND SYSTEMATICS, VOL 48, 48: 585-603 2017 Review; Book Chapter (Details)
  • Floral scent and species divergence in a pair of sexually deceptive orchids 
    Gervasi, Daniel D. L.; Selosse, Marc-Andre; Sauve, Mathieu; et al. 
    ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 7 (15): 6023-6034 AUG 2017 Article (Details)
  • The effect of pollinators and herbivores on selection for floral signals: a case study in Brassica rapa 
    Knauer, A. C.; Schiestl, F. P. 
    EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY, 31 (2): 285-304 APR 2017 Article (Details)
Florian Schiestl

Prof. Dr. Florian P. Schiestl
University of Zurich
Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
8008 Zurich

Tel. +41 (0)44 634 84 09

Research topics

  • Pollination biology
  • Chemical communication
  • Plant speciation
  • Floral mimicry



  • Molecular Biology (cooperating Ueli Grossniklaus)
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Plant Ecology
  • Plant Evolutionary Biology