AG Dr. Georg Petschenka
Research in our group is focused on insect resistance to plant toxins, including sequestration of plant toxins as a defense against predators. Our main goal is to understand the underlying mechanisms of these traits and how resistance and sequestration (which are often intertwined) evolve. We study insect-plant interactions across three trophic levels and integrate chemical analyses, insect biochemistry, ecology, and predation assays to unravel the selective forces that direct insect-plant coevolution. Specifically, we use milkweed butterflies (Danaini) and milkweed bugs (Lygaeinae) which sequester host plant cardenolides as model systems but our study systems also include other insects as well as different classes of plant compounds such as alkaloids.